We recently talked about China’s Chang’e-4 making its way to the far side of the moon. It carried seeds as well, and according to the China National Space Administration, the green shoots are the first biological matter to be grown on the moon.
This breakthrough will prove to be monumental for the deep space colonization. Chang’e-4 made the touchdown on the moon on 3rd January along with its equipment and a rover that will be used for exploring the moon’s surface, and to carry out biological growth experiments.
The growth experiments designed by Chongqing University Crops have been successful on the International Space Station. However, they have never been performed on the moon before.
Now that we are able to grow food on Moon, using it as a base for Mars exploration has become more feasible. This also implies that humans might be able to sustain themselves without requiring resupplies from Earth. The Chinese spacecraft had a sealed metal canister onboard that contained potato seeds, cotton seeds, oilseed rape seeds, Arabidopsis, yeast, and Drosophila melanogaster.
The Chongqing University page says, ‘The plants would generate oxygen and food for other living things to ‘consume.’ The Drosophila melanogaster, as consumers, and yeast, as decomposers, would generate carbon dioxide by consuming oxygen for photosynthesis of plants. In addition, the yeast can decompose the waste of plants and Drosophila melanogaster and grow, and can also serve as the food of Drosophila melanogaster. With this circle, a mini biosphere comprising producers, consumers, and decomposers is formed.’
The People’s Daily – the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party – tweeted a picture of the sprouted cottonseed with the caption, ‘the completion of humankind’s first biological experiment on the Moon.’
Professor Xie Gengxin, the chief designer of the experiment, said, ‘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.’ China is expanding its space program, and Chang’e-5 will be launched this year with the aim of bringing back moon samples – the first time since the 1970s.
Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), said, ‘Experts are still discussing and verifying the feasibility of subsequent projects, but it’s confirmed that there will be another three missions after Chang’e-5.’
What the future holds for mankind is starting to look promising. What do you think? Do let us know!