China lunar lander grows cotton plant on the moon

  • Tuesday 15, October 2019 08:48 AM
Sharjah 24 – Reuters: China successfully grew a plant on the moon in a biological first.
On January 3, China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe made a milestone soft-landing on the far side of the moon. CNN reports that the spacecraft carried a self-contained biosphere called the Lunar Micro Ecosystem, or LME, that was activated upon landing.

A cotton seed inside the biosphere sprouted two leaves, making it the first living thing humans have grown on the moon.

According to China's state-run Science and Technology Daily, the 2.6-kilogram LME cylinder measured 20 centimeters in length and 17 centimeters in diameter.

Apart from cotton, it carried potato and arabidopsis seeds, fruit fly eggs, and yeast. These were all kept in Earth-like conditions except for microgravity and lunar radiation.

Xie said the LME experienced erratic temperature fluctuations, forcing scientists to terminate the experiment and shut down the power.

The shutdown left the seeds and eggs unprotected in the lunar night, when temperatures dropped to a low of minus 190 degrees Celsius, according to the China Daily.

IEEE Spectrum reports the cotton leaves were dead within one lunar daytime, or 14.5 Earth days.