China is growing crops on the moon in preparation for its proposed lunar base

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A picture of the lander taken by the rover's panoramic camera. Image Credit: CLEP

There’s cotton growing on the far side of the moon—the first time plants have sprouted there. On January 3, a lunar lander called Chang’e-4 touched down on the moon, deploying a rover to explore lunar terrain.

The lander also carries a container filled with soil and cotton and potato seeds, and the cotton seeds are now sprouting, an image released by the China National Space Administration today (January 15) shows. The image was published on the People’s Daily, China twitter feed, which is run by the country’s state-owned media group.

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A cotton seed brought to the moon by China’s Chang’e 4 probe has sprouted. Image Credit: People’s Daily, China

“Learning about these plants’ growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base,” Chongqing University’s Liu Hanlong, who is leading the experiment, says in a statement, according to the South China Morning Post. The space agency is developing preliminary plans for a crewed lunar landing mission in the 2030s, with the possibility of building a moon base with international cooperation afterward.

Related article:  If we find alien life, how will we protect it from our own 'microbial stowaways'?

This is the first time that scientists have gotten seeds to sprout there. The soil and seeds are secured in an airtight container designed to maintain a temperature of 25 °C. There’s also rapeseed, Arabidopsis, and potato in the soil in the container, along with yeast and fruit fly eggs.

Read full, original article: China Is Growing Cotton on the Moon

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