For the first time, according to Chinese sources, a plant has grown on the moon. In a kind of special greenhouse of the Chinese lunar probe “Chang’e 4” was a cottonseed risen, reported the official news agency Xinhua. In addition to the cotton, the researchers had sent other plant seeds and eggs from fruit flies and yeasts to the moon. They should benefit from each other as a kind of mini-biosphere. However, images transmitted by the probe showed, according to Xinhua, that only the cotton flourished from the plants.
The mini-biosphere is reminiscent of a big tin. The 2.6-kilogram container contains water, soil, air, two cameras and a temperature control system.
In addition, natural light is conducted from the lunar surface into the system. After landing the probe, the seeds were watered to initiate growth.
With Chang’e 4, China managed a controlled landing on the back of the moon for the first time in the history of space travel at the beginning of January. Then a robotic vehicle called Jadehase 2 was put into operation.
However, long-term growth has not been granted to the cotton seedling, as Chang’e 4 has just begun a very terrible and very cold moonlit night with temperatures of up to minus 170 degrees Celsius.
The probe had gone into a kind of sleep mode on Sunday, reported Xinhua. “Life in the container would not survive the moonlit night,” Xi said.
Now the organisms in the biosphere are supposed to rot. The experiment is intended to bring important insights, for example to build a permanent settlement on the moon.
The moon researcher Ralf Jaumann from the German Aerospace Center sees a challenge especially in the long moon days and nights. “No matter which plantation you want to build up there, you have to come up with something, where you get light and energy.”
At a certain point on the moon, it will be bright for two weeks and then dark for two weeks.
In space, but also earlier vegetables were pulled. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Arabidopsis plant, which is popular in basic research, was planted on the Soviet space station Salyut 7 as early as 1982.
Some years ago, the ISS crew was able to eat the first salad grown on the space station.
In addition, at the beginning of December 2018, a greenhouse satellite from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) was sent into space.