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  • The Chinese Chang'e-4 lunar probe landed on the dark side of the Moon.

    The Chinese Chang'e-4 lunar probe landed on the dark side of the Moon. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 16 January 2019
Opinion

The team of scientists has announced that the cotton seeds, rapeseed and potato seeds on the probe have all sprouted.

A Chinese rover which became the first probe to land on the far side of the moon has beamed back images that contain the first-ever plants to sprout in that area.

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Australian Astronomical Observatory’s Fred Watson, told BBC that the sprout “suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in [the] future trying to grow their own crops on the moon in a controlled environment.” 

China’s Change 4 Probe carried containers filled with soil that contain various seeds which are expected to grow in the span of the next 100 days, according to media reports. The team of scientists has announced that the cotton seeds, rapeseed and potato seeds have all sprouted.

“Learning about these plant’s growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base,” Chongqing University’s Liu Hanlong, who is leading the experiment, stated.

The probe is worth an estimated US$1.8 million and it is specifically designed for the purpose of growing crops in extreme conditions.

Temperatures on the moon can get up to 100 degrees Celcius during the day to as low as minus 100 degrees Celcius during the night. To circumvent the extreme conditions, the Change 4 has a specially designed container which maintains the temperature between 1 degree Celcius and 30 degrees Celcius.

The probe is designed with an 18 centimeter-high aluminum alloy cylinder or “micro-ecological circle.” Change 4  also contains several other kinds of organisms, among them silkworm and fruit fly eggs.

China’s National Space Administration is currently developing plans to lead a manned lunar mission in the 2030s with international cooperation, according to the People’s Daily.

Change 4 is not the first successful space plant growth experiment. In 1982, the Soviet Salyut 7 Lithuanian-manned space station crew grew Arabidopsis - plants related to cabbage and mustard.

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