This of course marks the first time that a plant has ever grown on the Moon, with the seeds naturally sprouting in a specially designed and concealed container.
The seeds began growing once they received water from the probe via a command from a ground control centre. That's because temperatures drop to -150 degress Celsius during lunar nights on the moon, and according to Xie Gengxin, chief designer of the experiment, life inside the canister would simply not survive those conditions.
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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shared its glee on Twitter, saying, "China's moon mission success means that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space!" Chang'e-8 will focus on scientific surveys and experiments, such as testing important technologies needed to construct a science and research base on the Moon.
Cotton plants have been seen budding and growing, as shown by this close-up of the plants sprouting under a protective cover on the Chang'e 4 lunar lander. The arabidosposis seeds contribute via its photosynthesis and could be a food source, but the plant is generally considered to be weed with a short growth cycle that could be useful for observation.
In 2011, the US Congress passed a bill restricting cooperation between China and the US in space exploration. Dubbed a moon surface micro-ecological circle, the 18-centimeter high aluminum alloy cylinder contains silkworm eggs and seeds for potatoes and rockcress (Arabidopsis thaliana, a flowering plant related to mustard and cabbage).
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To the Australian Astronomical Association astronomer-at-large, Fred Watson, the development was "good news", reports the BBC.
The State Council Information Office of China (SCIO) held a press conference Monday (Jan. 14) to discuss that epic touchdown, and to give an overview of the nation's future activities on Earth's nearest neighbor.
The lead scientist for China's lunar project revealed on Tuesday that U.S. space scientists had asked permission to use China's Chang'e 4 spacecraft and relay satellite to help them plan an American mission to the far side of the moon. At least two of them will land on the moon's south pole and conduct research, he said.
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