Published: Sat, January 19, 2019
Sci-tech | By Laverne Osborne

Cottoning on: Chinese seed sprouts on moon

Cottoning on: Chinese seed sprouts on moon

Weeks ago, China became the first nation to land a lunar rover on the dark side of the Moon, marking a historic high point for the nation's space program that has been rapidly closing the capability gap created by decades of American and Russian space endeavors.

Cotton seeds planted on the far side of the Moon have sprouted for the first time, according to the Chinese space agency.

"We have given consideration to future survival in space", Liu Hanlong, the seed experiment's head professor, told the South China Morning Post.

China's second lunar rover Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2), which is the first-ever rover to drive on the Moon's far side, will face considerable challenges brought by complicated terrain in its future exploration, Chinese space experts have said.

Cotton seeds, potato seeds, rapeseed, yeast, and fruit fly eggs were all sealed inside a canister and loaded on the lander to protect them from extreme temperature and radiation.

Chang'e-5, which will launch at the end of this year, will return a sample from the near side of the Moon. And because lunar eclipses can occur only during a full moon - and the first full moon in January is known as a "wolf moon" - many are calling this spectacular event a "Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse". - China will seek to establish an global lunar base one day, possibly using 3D printing technology to build facilities, the Chinese space agency said on January 14, weeks after landing the rover on the moon's far side.

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The CNSA had on Friday released a video of the landing process of the Chang'e-4, which was produced by processing more than 4,700 pictures taken by a camera on the probe.

The ability to grow plants on the Moon will be integral for long-term space missions, like a trip to Mars which would take about two-and-a-half years.

China last tried to send a craft to Mars in 2012 - the Yinghuo mission - but the spacecraft carrying it disintegrated as it failed to get into orbit around Earth.

The country has also said that it will welcome scientists and astronauts from around the world to make use of its space station, which is slated for completion by 2022.

It could even help provide a blueprint for growing resources during a future moon colony established by humans.

A series of moves by China is likely to fuel competition with the United States in lunar exploration.

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