One giant leaf for mankind! China has started growing COTTON on the far side of the moon (and potatoes are next!): Pioneering mission to the lunar surface successfully germinates seeds for the FIRST TIME Cotton seeds can be seen sprouting in a photo released by the CNSA This is the first ever time biological matter has been grown on the moon  Cotton, oilseed rape, potato, Arabidopsis, yeast and fruit flies are also on-board  Footage and an image of the ground-breaking crop was posted on social media

Chinas Change-4 mission has successfully started growing plants on the moon. 

Cotton seeds can be seen sprouting in a photo released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). 

The mission took a variety of seeds to the moon as part of its biosphere experiment and this marks the first time ever that biological material has been cultivated on the lunar surface. 

Other biological matter on the Change-4 mission includes cotton, oilseed rape, potato, Arabidopsis, yeast and fruit flies.

More plants are expected to sprout in the next 100 days, the Chinese space agency claims.  

Developing the ability to grow plants in space is an important step towards successful long duration space flight to Mars and beyond. 

Scroll down for video  

 

Cotton seeds can be seen sprouting in a photo released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). The mission took a variety of seeds to the moon as part of its biosphere experiment 

Video playing bottom right...
Click here to expand to full page
 
 
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
2:59
Pause
Unmute
 
Current Time2:59
/
Duration Time4:14
Fullscreen
ExpandClose

The picture emerged after being released has come from Chongqing University and was published on the universitys Weibo account.

It read: After experimenting under the moons high vacuum, large temperature difference, strong radiation and harsh conditions, mankind has grown the first plant sprout, realising mans first moon-based biological growth experiment. 

Images sent back by the probe show the cotton sprout has grown well, but so far none of the other plants on-board have taken, the university said.  

Fruit flies - also known as Drosophila - are a model organism widely used throughout science to understand how animals react in different environments. 

Their short reproduction time is useful in allowing scientists to understand its genetic impact after several generations of reproduction. 

Arabidopsis, a simple plant related to the mustard family, is the plant equivalent of Drosophila and also widely used by scientists. 

The studies on these pioneering plants are being done in a specially designed biosphere on the Change-4 lander and not on the mobile rover, Yutu-2. 

It has greater temperature regulation and insulation which protects its experiments from the extreme temperatures on the moon. 

A lack of atmosphere means the UV rays from the sun reach the surface of the moon unfiltered and unabated. 

Temperatures fluctuate between highs of 127°C (261°F) and frigid lows of -173°C (-279°F).  

The seeds and eggs are kept in a small cylindrical tin and are expected to grow inside the 0.8L container.

The lunar mini biosphere is part of Beijings biological studies in space as it plans to build a lunar base and eventually put people on the moon by 2036.

Researchers hope the potato and Arabidopsis seeds will grow to blossom on the moon in 100 days, with the process captured on camera and transmitted to Earth, according to a previous reports. 

 

The mission took a variety of seeds to the moon as part of its biosphere experiment and this marks the first time ever that biological material has been cultivated on the lunar surface. This handout shows a cotton sprout growing in a lattice-structured container

 

The 0.8L cylindrical tin was designed by experts from south-west Chinas Chongqing University. It is equipped with insulating layers and a mini air-conditioning system

 

Scientists hope that the seeds will grow to blossom on the moon in 100 days and the silkworm eggs will hatch and grow into moths. The seeds and eggs are kept in a lunar mini biosphere

WHAT IS THE LUNAR MINI BIOSPHERE ABOARD THE CHANGE-4 PROBE?

As well as radiation monitoring and mineralogical experiments, Chinas Change-4 probe contains a lunar mini biosphere to perform biological studies.

It holds potato seeds and silkworm eggs, as well as arabidopsis seeds - plants related to cabbage and mustard that are commonly used by biologists as a model for how plants behave in different environments. 

Researchers hope the seeds will grow to blossom on the Moon, with the process captured on camera and transmitted to Earth. 

The 6.6lb (three kg) cylindrical tin is made from a specially developed aluminium alloy.

It is seven inches (18 cm) tall, with a diameter of six inches (16 cm) and a net volume of 1.4 pints (0.8 litres).

As well as seeds, it contains water, a nutrient solution, air and equipment including a small camera and data transmission system.

It will use a tube to direct sunlight on the surface of the Moon into the tin to allow the plants to grow.

Researchers from 28 Chinese Universities are behind the project, led by southwest Chinas Chongqing University. 

Astronauts have previously cultivated plants on the International Space Station. Rice and arabidopsis were also grown on Chinas Tiangong-2 space lab.

Both of these experiments were conducted in low Earth orbit and under very different conditions.

Experts hope that the new experiment will help accumulate knowledge for building a lunar base and long-term residence on the Moon.

 

The 6.6lb (three kg) tin is made from a specially developed aluminium alloy. It is seven inches (18 cm) tall, with a diameter of six inches (16 cm) and a net volume of 1.4 pints (0.8 litres).

As well as seeds, it contains water, a nutrient solution, air and equipment including a small camera and data transmission system.

Researchers from 28 Chinese Universities are behind the project, led by southwest Chinas Chongqing University.

Astronauts have previously cultivated plants on the International Space Station. Rice and Arabidopsis were also grown on Chinas Tiangong-2 space lab.

Professor Christopher Conselice, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingha, told MailOnline: China is doing experiments with seeds and worms to see how things form in space and there is relatively little information on this.

Thats a new ares of space exploration which we can learn about which was impossible before Change-4.

Chinas luna lander captures stunning far side view of the moon
 
 
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
00:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
 
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time0:00
Fullscreen
 

Yutu-2 has a host of instruments and will be powered by solar panels.  Unlike the similar probe on-board the Change-3 mission this rover has no robotic arm. It announced afterwards it will be taking a nap to protect against the suns immense heat on the moon 

Speaking to Xinhua last year, the chief designer of the lunar mini biosphere Xie Gengxin called the experiment significant.

Xie said it could herald a breakthrough for them to understand how humans might be able to survive on an alien planet.

Zhang Yuanxun, a director from Chinas Deep-space Exploration Associated Research Centre, said the difficulties of the experiment was to control the temperatures and ensure energy supply for the lunar mini biosphere in the complicated environment on the moon.

The lunar day and night each lasts for 14 days, half of its orbit around Earth. The temperatures on its surface could range from the peak of 127°C (261°F) to lows of -173°C (-279°F).

To control the temperatures, scientists put insulating layers around the tin and built a mini air-conditioning system inside hoping it could provide a pleasant environment for the plants to grow.

To obtain energy, the tin will be powered by the solar panels on Change-4 during the day and its internal batteries during the night.

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CHINESE SPACE EXPLORATION?

Officials from the Chinese space agency have said the country will return to the moon by the end of 2019 with the Change-5 mission.

This will collect rocks from the near side of the moon and return them to Earth for further study. 

Change-6 will be the first mission to explore the south pole of the moon. 

Change-7 will study the land surface, composition, space environment in a comprehensive mission, it was claimed, while Change-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.

China is also reportedly working on building a lunar base using 3D printing technology.  

Mission number eight will likely lay the groundwork for this as it strives to verify the technology earmarked for the project and if it is viable as a scientific base.  

Chinas space agency the China National Space Administration (CNSA) also say they want to travel to mars by 2020. 

 

Change-4 is also equipped with instruments developed by scientists from Sweden, Germany and China to study the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moons surface.  

China has revealed it wants to be the first country to establish a base on the moon and says it will build it using 3D printing technology. 

Officials from the Chinese space agency also said the country will return to the moon by the end of the year with the Change-5 mission.  

Three successive missions will further explore the barren surface and the viability of building houses there.

China is swiftly establishing a reputation as one of the forerunners in the renaissance of the space race with its continued investment in both Martian and lunar missions.

After Change-5 returns lunar rocks from the surface the next mission, Change-6 will be the first mission to explore the south pole of the moon.

Change-7 will study the land surface, composition and space environment in a comprehensive mission, it was claimed, while Change-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.

Mission number eight will likely lay the groundwork for a potential lunar base as it strives to verify the technology earmarked for the ambitious project.

China National Space Administration (CNSA) said they also have plans to go to Mars in 2020, a timeline that would likely make them the first to do so, beating out the US, Russia and the plethora of private firms looking to colonise space.  

 
 

There have been numerous landings on the moon as a result of the 20th century space race between the US and the USSR - including the famed Apollo 11 mission which saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans on the moon. After Luna 24  landed on August 18 the next lunar landing was the Chinese mission Change-3 on December 14, 2013. Change-4 is the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon 

 

The rover is equipped with a variety of scientific instruments to help it analyse the surface of the moon, including a panoramic and infrared camera, ground-penetrating radar and a low-frequency radio spectrometer

China successfully achieved a global first with its trip to the far side of the moon when it landed in the Von Kármán crater on January 4. 

The missions scientific undertakings are now well underway on board both Yutu-2 and Change-4. 

Yutu-2, the Jade Rabbit rover, went into nap mode shortly after landing on the surface of the far side of the moon and woke up after five days.

Since then it has sent back stunning panoramic images of the grey and pockmarked moonscape as well as video and images of both the rover and the lander. 

Yutu-2 is designed to study the geology of the rocks in the Von Karman crater in the South Pole-Aitken basin - the largest known impact basin in the solar system.

The crater is believed to be composed of various chemical compounds, including thorium, iron oxide, and titanium dioxide.  

It is also hoped that by judging this deep scar on the surface of the moon the scientists could find clues to piece together the origin of the lunar mantle. 

Chinas space agency hopes that by exploring the huge 8-mile deep divot on the surface of the moon they may be able to shed some light on its history and geology by collecting rocks that have never been seen before.

Researchers hope the huge depth of the crater will allow them to study its mantle, the layer underneath the surface of the moon. 

A TIMELINE OF HOW CHINA REACHED THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON
 

Change-4 launched from the Xichang satellite launch centre in Sichuan, south-west China at 6:30 GMT on December 7 

October 24 2007 - China launches Change-1, an unmanned satellite, into space where it remains operational for more than a year. 

October 1 2010 - China launches Change-2. This was part of the first phase of the Chinese moon programme. It was in a 100-km-high lunar orbit to gather data for the upcoming Change-3 mission. 

September 29, 2011 - China launched Tiangong 1. 

September 15 2013 - A second space lab, Tiangong 2, is launched. 

December 1 2013 - Change-3 launched.  

December 14 2013 - Change-3, a 2,600 lb (1,200 kg) lunar probe landed on the near side of the moon successfully. It became the first object to soft-land on the Moon since Luna 24 in 1976. 

April 1 2018 - Tiangong-1 crashed into Earth at 17,000 mph and lands in the ocean off the coast if Tahiti. 

May 20 2018 - China launched a relay satellite named Queqiao which is stationed in operational orbit about 40,000 miles beyond the moon. This is designed to enable Change-4 to communicate wit engineers back on Earth. 

 
 

The Change-4 lunar rover is lifted into space from the Xichang launch centre in Xichang in Chinas southwestern Sichuan province on December 7

December 7 2018 - Chinese space agency announces it has launched the Change-4 probe into space. 

December 12 2018 -  Retrorockets on the probe fired to stabilise the spacecraft and slow it down. 

December 31 2018 -   The probe prepared for the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon. 

Estimated for 2020 - Tiangong 3,a follow-up mission to the Tiangong-2 

Before 2033 - China plans for its first uncrewed Mars exploration program.

2040 - 2060 - The Asian superpower is planning a crewed mission to Mars.