China got a cotton seed to sprout on the moon for the first time in what is the success of one of the Chang'e 4 probe experiments, the first to land on the hidden side of the satellite in the history of space exploration, reports the state news agency Xinhua today. According to a team of scientists from Chongqing University (southeast China), this finding is the first successful biosphere "mini-experiment" conducted on the satellite.
The Chang'e 4 probe, which last January 3 successfully landed on the dark side of the Moon for the first time in history, brought with it cotton seeds, rapeseed, potatoes and arabidopsis, as well as fruit fly eggs and some yeasts, for the sake of being able to create a "simple minibiosphere", according to Xinhua. In this sense, the images sent by the Chang'e 4 showed today an outbreak of cotton that had grown successfully, the only seed that has managed to germinate until now.
This crop, however, is not easy: the temperatures on the lunar surface can exceed 100 degrees Celsius per day and lower to 100 negatives at night, in addition to receiving greater solar radiation and presenting a lower severity than in the earth. Xie Gengxin, a scientist in charge of the experiment with plants on the Moon, said that his team had designed a container that would maintain the temperature between 1 and 30 degrees, allowing the entry of natural light and the supply of water and nutrients to the plants. to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post.
According to this newspaper, said device, an aluminum cylinder 18 centimeters high and 16 in diameter, weighs 3 kilos and had a cost of more than 10 million yuan (1.47 million dollars, 1.29 million euros) . In any case, these plants have not been the first to grow in space: a NASA team has already developed a system of zinnias – a type of flower – on the International Space Station in 2016.
China announced yesterday its intention to continue expanding its space exploration program, with a mission to collect samples on the moon this year and another in 2020 whose goal will be Mars, according to the deputy director of the National Space Agency of China (ANEC), Wu Yanhua