The human race has been trying to get to outer space and colonize other planets. The plans are meant for the survival of human race, but they raise a million concerns that we need to cater for before even the first person steps foot on Mars. Apart from the survival in intense ultraviolet radiations, the top most concern will be the ability to grow food in space. ISS astronauts have performed many experiments and managed to grow plants in the microgravity environment of the space station. Moon was the first extraterrestrial body that we set foot on, and that is where Chinese scientists will attempt to grow food first.
The super hit science fiction movie from 2015, The Martian, featured an astronaut and botanist farming potatoes for survival after they got stranded on Mars. The next lunar mission Chang’e-4 was announced at the Global Space Exploration Conference in Beijing. Scientists preparing for Chang’e-4 have picked potatoes for growing on the moon as well.
Chongqing Morning Post reported that a series of experiments would be conducted on the lunar mission led by Chongqing University researchers, which will involve potato spuds and silkworm larvae. The team intends to find out if potatoes can grow on the moon and whether or not insects can survive there. Professor Xie Gengxin, the head designer of the project said that the experiments would provide valuable insights into the viability of a future human colony.
A 3kg “mini ecosystem” measuring only 18 centimeters in length with a diameter of 16 centimeters will be used to conduct these experiments. The major issue with the survival is the difference between the environments of the earth and the moon. The temperature on the moon can go as low as -170 degree Celsius and the researchers say that it will require a lot of energy for the capsule to keep running in the harsh lunar environment.
The team even hopes to live stream the entire process to raise awareness. “We hope it will raise awareness on environmental issues and generate interest in space exploration,” said Professor Xie.