We recently talked about the Chang’e-4 from China and the sprouting of the first seed on the far side of the moon. However, today we are here to tell you that the first plants on the moon have died following the drop in temperature over the course of the night.
Chang’e-4 had landed on the Von Kármán crater on 3rd January and was programmed to explore the unknown side of the moon known as the far side of the moon. It also featured a rover intended for surface investigations. The solar-powered rover was also transporting a unique and special cargo; a small garden.
The container was developed by a team of researchers from the Chongqing University and had seeds from cotton, Brassica napus, Arabidopsis, Drosophila melanogaster, yeast, and potato. It was a carefully designed ecosystem.
The Chongqing University page said, ‘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 cotton seeds sprouted quickly becoming the first-ever plants to have successfully grown in space outside of the ISS. The breakthrough was, nonetheless, huge news for those who are committed to deep space colonization. Being able to grow food on moon implied that we would be able to develop self-sufficient colonies in space that would not need restocking from earth.
The celebrated seedlings, however, have died. The canister that was housing the seeds did not possess a heater and once the moon’s temperature drops to negative 52 degrees Celsius during the night; the plants gave up. For those who don’t know; a day and a night on the moon lasts for about two weeks.
Chang’e-4 is continuing with the primary mission of exploring the far side of the moon. The collected information is being sent back to Earth using a satellite relay. Chang’e-5, the successor to Chang’e-4, will be bringing samples back from the moon – the first time ever after the ‘70s.