Chinese cotton seeds sprout on the moon

Cotton seeds carried by Chinese probe sprout on the far side of moon
Potatoes could be next

Alex Linder

Cotton seeds carried by Chinese probe sprout on the far side of moon Potatoes could be next by Alex Linder

This represents the first time that humans have deliberately grown living material on the moon, and indeed, any other planetary body. It involves an 18-centimeter container holding a mini-biosphere of air, water, and soil, as well as cotton seeds, potato seeds, arabidopsis seeds, yeast, and fruit fly eggs. 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. But the closest that terrestrial vegetation has come to the moon before now was in 1971, when Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa carried hundreds of tree seeds to orbit the moon with him.

According to, the first full moon of the year is known as the "Wolf Moon" and is named after howling wolves.

The pioneering landing highlights China's ambitions to rival the US, Russia and Europe in space through manned flights and the planned construction of a permanent space station. With the ability to grow edible plants, astronauts could grow and harvest their own food, enabling long-term habitation.

China has invited worldwide scientists to collaborate on its space station, which is expected to be completed in 2022.

A photograph taken on January 7 and released on Tuesday by China's National Space Administration showed the seeds sprouting on the far side of the moon. Many of these seeds were later planted back on Earth, becoming "Moon Trees".

The experiment's chief designer, Xie Gengxin of Chongqing University, told Xinhua that life inside the canister would not survive the lander's first lunar night, which started on Sunday.

China is now the third country to establish a presence on the moon after the United States and Russian Federation.

This picture released on January 11, 2019 by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS shows the Chang'e-4 lunar probe, taken by the Yutu-2 moon rover, on the far side of the moon.

Planted among the cotton seeds are other biological experiments, including rapeseed and potato seeds.

Chang'e 5 will lay the groundwork for further probes to be sent to the moon's south pole and possibly to return samples from the far side of the moon, Wu said.

The journey took more than 20 days, and scientists at the China National Space Administration spent two months doing final checks before sending it into space.

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