China confirms seeds sprouting on dark side of moon

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Cotton seeds were the first to sprout after which rapeseed and potato seeds emerged.

Cotton seeds carried to the moon by a Chinese probe have sprouted, marking what could be the first plant to ever grow there, according to Chinese government images.

Researcher Xie Gengxin said, 'This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface'.

The Chang'e 4 probe which is named after the Chinese moon goddess made the world's first soft landing on the moon on January 3.

The Chang'e 4 is also the first vehicle to land on the far-side of the moon.

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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. "Learning about these plants' growth in a low gravity environment would allow us to lay foundation for our future establishment of (a) space base". Yeast could play a role in regulating carbon dioxide and oxygen in the mini biosphere, and the fruit fly would be a consumer of the photosynthesis process. China's space agency says it worked with NASA to collect data from the far side of the moon.

China has announced ambitious new plans in space, including building a base on the Moon and sending a probe to Mars.

The seeds began growing once they received water from the probe via a command from a ground control centre. 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). 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 resupply.

After Chang'e-5 returns lunar rocks from the surface the next mission, China will launch Chang'e-6 to bring samples back from the south pole of the moon. The organisms will gradually decompose in the totally enclosed canister, and will not affect the lunar environment, said the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

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