A cotton plant growing in the soil may not be of significance to you but when the same cotton seed sprouts in the space, it becomes history.
China’s Chang’e-4 mission has marked the history by growing the first plants on Moon. Before you start imagining cotton crops growing on the surface of the Moon, let me clarify that the plant wasn’t in contact with the Lunar surface.
The Chinese space agency sent cotton, potato seeds, yeast, and fruit fly eggs inside a sealed, self-sustained biosphere that provides the essential climate and nourishment artificially to sustain plant growth.
It was a part of an experiment that aims to find out whether plants could grow under the widely varying temperatures and low gravity. The moon lander had to accommodate several changes to ensure consistent biosphere conditions.
Despite the challenges, this experiment is a giant leaf for mankind (pun intended) as it suggests that humans have realistic chance of growing plants during space missions for food and other resources.
It could also relieve the cargo load for long term missions to Moon and other planets. While growing full-fledged extraterrestrial farms is beyond our capacity at the moment, this milestone makes the idea seems more achievable.
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First in human history: A cotton seed brought to the moon by China's Chang'e 4 probe has sprouted, the latest test photo has shown, marking the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the moon pic.twitter.com/CSSbgEoZmC
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) January 15, 2019