China Focus: Moon sees first cotton-seed sprout

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Cotton seeds were the first to sprout after which rapeseed and potato seeds emerged.

Cotton seeds have reportedly just sprouted in an experiment aboard China's Chang'e 4 moon lander.

China says it has grown the first plants on the Moon as part of its historic mission to the far side.

After Chang'e-4 landed on the far side of the moon on January 3, the ground control center instructed the probe to water the plants to start the growing process.

The mission, titled Chang'e 4, is meant to accomplish a range of tasks, including conducting the first lunar low-frequency radio astronomy experiment and exploring whether there is water at the moon's poles.

During the 20-day journey from Earth to the far side of the moon, the cotton seeds and other plants were made dormant by "biological technology".

"We have given consideration to future survival in space", Prof. - 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.

The biopsy test load carried cotton, canola, potato, Arabidopsis, yeast and fruit fly.

The lunar mini biosphere experiment on the lander is created to test photosynthesis and respiration - processes in living organisms that result in the production of energy. On Monday, China's space agency announced the Chang'e 5 lunar mission would launch by the end of the year with a goal to bring moon samples back to Earth. Once on the Moon's far side, ground control commanded the lander to water the seeds. The cotton can make material for astronaut's clothes.

With the ability to grow edible plants, astronauts could grow and harvest their own food, enabling long-term habitation.

China's space administration also released a 12-minute video of Chang'e 4's landing, using more than 4,700 images taken by an on-board camera. The organisms will gradually decompose in the totally enclosed canister, and will not affect the lunar environment, said the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

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