Plants have been grown previously on the International Space Station, but this is the first time a seed has sprouted on the moon.
The China National Space Administration released a photo Tuesday showing that cotton seeds brought to the far side of the moon by the country's Chang'e 4 lander had germinated, the South China Morning Post reports. Inside you'll find soil, yeast, fruit fly and silkworm eggs, as well as cotton, potato, tomato, and (flowering) thale cress seeds.
The Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, The People's Daily hailed the achievement as "humankind's first biological experiment on the moon".
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Last night, they announced their first breakthrough publishing a picture of cotton seed, bought up on Chang'e 4 actually growing.
In an attempt to better understand how plants and animals could grow and live on the lunar surface, Chongqing University equipped the Chang'e 4 lander with a "mini-biosphere" experiment, which is created to be a self-sustaining ecosystem, according to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua. The container with all the organisms is equipped with a control system that keeps the inside at 25C. The plants produced oxygen and food that are used to sustain the fruit flies.
The probe conducted the first-ever soft landing on the dark side of the Moon on January 3 following a 20-day journey from Earth.
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The seeds and eggs were kept dormant as the probe traveled through space. He said that the cotton and rapeseed were chosen because they could provide the astronauts with the raw material needed to produce clothing and oil.
"With this circle, a mini biosphere comprising producers, consumers and decomposers is formed", they said. A tube directed natural light on the surface of the Moon into the canister to allow the plants to grow. It successfully deployed the Jade Rabbit 2 rover and has now once again made history by sprouting the first seedlings on the moon.
There are also plans for the missions to explore the possibility of building a lunar research base possibly using 3D printing.
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The landing is a milestone for China's fledgling space program, marking the first time that China has completed a significant space mission that was not already performed previously by the U.S. or Russian Federation.