China has become the first nation to germinate plants on the moon, following another world first, a soft landing on the moon’s far side on January 3.
Photographs released by the Advanced Technology Research Institute at Chongqing University show emerging cotton sprouts within a canister aboard the Change’-4 lander.
The successful landing of Chang’e-4 is a weighty milestone in China’s strategic space program, and the experiments aboard the lander will test technology and methods for supporting human habitation in space.
A range of vegetables and plants have previously been grown on the International Space Station, but this is the first time plants have been grown on the moon.
Head of the experiment, Liu Hanlong, said that rapeseed and potato seeds had also sprouted aboard Chang’e-4.
“We have given consideration to future survival in space. Learning about these plants’ growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base,” Liu told the South China Morning Post.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) confirmed that another four lunar missions would follow Chang’e-4, with a Mars mission planned for 2020.
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