China has become the first country to grow plants on the Moon. The country’s Chang’e-4 mission that landed on the far-side of the Moon recently has successfully carried out its first biological experiment. Scientists at the Chongqing University released photos of cotton seeds beginning to sprout, but it’s just one of several items the Chinese have delivered to the Moon.
Also included in the biological experiment payload are potato seeds, arabidopsis seeds, rapeseed, fruit fly pupae, and some yeast. With these items, scientists have created a micro-biosphere where the plants produce oxygen, the yeast regulates carbon dioxide and oxygen, and the fruit flies are "the consumers of the photosynthesis process.”
Some have questioned whether this experiment could contaminate the Moon; Chinese scientists say this is impossible because the payload is sealed and measures have been taken to prevent any leaks. Additionally, the harsh Lunar conditions would mean any biological matter that leaked “would have no chance of survival” and “would be decomposed to harmless organics with no pollution on the Moon.”
This mission is a vital step forward for future manned missions to the Moon. The scientists suggested cotton could be used for clothes manufacture while potatoes could be grown and used as a staple food for astronauts deployed to the satellite.