Chinese Chang’e 4 lunar lander cotton seeds are growing

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Wu said Monday that NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang'e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to set down on the far side of the moon earlier this month.

The "dark" side of the Moon may soon have a variety of vegetation growing there as China has begun its 100-day experiment to grow plants on the lunar surface.

Liu Hanlong, who is leading the experiment, said that the cotton seeds were the first to sprout, in comments to the South China Morning Post.

China's miniature biosphere experiment has yielded sprouting cotton seeds, and they are the first plants to germinate on the Moon - an important first step in creating a viable, self-sustaining lunar colony. "From a purely technical point of view, the seeds are the first living material to be deliberately grown on another planetary body, and that's a significant milestone".

As part of a bid to investigate the Moon's potential to support future space travellers, cotton seeds - alongside potato seeds, rapeseed, yeast and fruit fly eggs - were placed in a sealed canister on board the lander to protect them from temperature extremes and radiation. Then, when the lander reached the moon's surface, ground control instructed the mini-biosphere to water the plants and expose them to natural light. - China will seek to establish an worldwide lunar base one day, possibly using 3D printing technology to build facilities, the Chinese space agency said on January 14, weeks after landing the rover on the moon's far side.

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Carried by the Chang'e-4 mission, the scientists succeeded in bearing fruit on the moon. The experiment is contained within an 18 cm, 3 kg (7 lbs.) canister designed by 28 universities in China.

Gengxin added that these plants could be used to grow food and make cooking oil.

Fred Watson, Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer-at-large, told the BBC that the development was "good news".

The breakthrough is seen as key to future space missions, as the ability to grow plants could be key to longer-term missions such as journeys to Mars.

The plans underscore China's ambitions in space at a time when the USA is curtailing NASA's budget and increasingly handing over space exploration to commercial adventurers, the Washington Post reported on Monday. The probe has taken 170 pictures.

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