First plants on moon, China says it has done the job
Chinese scientists say they have grown the first plants on the moon as part of the country’s lunar mission.
Pictures sent back Jan. 12 showed plant shoots growing well nine days after the experiment was initiated, Chongqing University, which led the biological project, said in a briefing Tuesday.
The biopsy test load carried cotton, canola, potato, Arabidopsis, yeast and fruit fly. Crops were exposed to high vacuum, temperature differences, and strong radiation.
After becoming the first country in the world to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, China is planning four more missions to get samples back before studying the feasibility of a lunar research base.
Watch: China claims to have grown first plants on moon as part of lunar mission
China plans to launch the Chang’e-5 probe to the moon later this year, with three more in the offing, said Wu Yanhua, vice administrator of the China National Space Administration, at a briefing in Beijing on Monday. At least two of them will land on the moon’s south pole and conduct research, he said.
“We will use the Chang’e-8 to test certain technologies and do some preliminary exploration for jointly building a research base on the moon,” Wu said.
The world’s second-biggest economy is doubling down on its space program as the race with the U.S. to explore Mars and beyond heats up at a time both the powers are vying for economic, technological and military dominance. With an annual space budget of $8 billion, second only to the U.S., China is also looking to send a probe to the red planet by the end of this decade and build its own space station by 2022.