Cotton seeds carried by Chinese lunar lander sprouts on moon

A total eclipse of the full moon was visible in Athens on 27th July 2018. Credit PA

Professor Xie Gengxin, the Chinese scientist in charge of the lunar plant experiment, said if successful, the project would signal that China was catching up in space exploration.

Seeds taken to the far side of the moon as part of China's lunar exploration mission have sprouted in a first for growing biological matter on the satellite. The experiment also contains potato and oilseed rape seeds.

Xinhua said the probe had taken about 170 pictures so far which have been sent back to Earth.

China's Chang'e 4 moon rover, known as Yutu 2, photographed by the Chang'e 4 lander on the moon's far side.

Meanwhile, the silkworm eggs will also hopefully hatch into moths, reports the SCMP.

According to CNSA, the biological species screened to be sent on the moon mission had to pass strict requirements due to the extremely limited size allowed in the cargo.

"From the images sent back from Chang'e 4, we can see the area surrounding the probe is dotted with craters of different sizes, and it's very hard for the rover to drive in the region", explained Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang'e 4 probe, according to Xinhua. "We will study their photosynthesis under strong sunlight and compare it with the experiment on the Earth".


They were also selected to be able to adapt to the harsh conditions of the moon, where they will have to withstand powerful temperatures - both high and low - as well as radiation.

China's Chang'e-4 probe has successfully germinated seeds on the dark side of the Moon in a miniature, artificial biosphere, providing hope for the future of sustainable, long-distance manned space travel. Among those organisms aboard the lander are seeds that could be the foundation for human settlement.

The experiment is being monitored 24 hours a day, with the data to be analysed and summarised in preparation for future experiments.

The space agency is already looking ahead to its next lunar mission, Chang'e 5, which is created to collect lunar samples and bring them back to Earth.

"The plants would generate oxygen and food for other living things to 'consume, '" Chongqing University scientists explained in an online article.

'From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling, ' said Li Chunlai, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the ground application system of Chang'e-4.

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