Wednesday, 24 April, 2019

Seeds taken to Moon by China's Chang'e-4 mission have sprouted

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The China National Space Agency's Chang'e 4 lander is exploring the mysterious side of our lunar neighbor that faces away from Earth. After making the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, China's Chang'e-4 mission pioneered the first mini biosphere experiment on the moon.

Astronauts have previously sprouted plants on the International Space Station, but never on the moon.

The Chang'e-4 probe, which landed on the "dark" or far side of the Moon on January 3, is housing an airtight container designed for growing plants and crops in shocking conditions.

Images sent by the probe showed that a cotton sprout had started to grow, though no other plants were found growing.

China has made space exploration a top priority in recent years, as it races to catch up with Russian Federation and the United States and become a major space power by 2030. The mission's architects say the experiments could help lay a foundation for one day establishing a lunar base. This mission has launched China into space race.

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The lunar mini biosphere experiment on the lander is created to test photosynthesis and respiration - processes in living organisms that result in the production of energy. Once on the Moon's far side, ground control commanded the lander to water the seeds. The seeds are for rapeseed, potato, Arabidopsis and cotton. We could probably make some nice sweaters from moon-grown cotton.

It would mean that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space, reducing the need to come back down to Earth to re-supply, the BBC reported.

It's also a total lunar eclipse, with the moon covered by Earth's shadow and taking on a red glow - hence the name blood moon.

Pictures released by the China National Space Administration released pictures showing a rocky surface with the jagged edge of craters in the background, posing a challenge for controllers in plotting the rover's travels, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The plans have been announced just weeks after the country successfully completed the first touchdown on the far side of the moon.

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