China’s First Moon Plant Is Likely Dead

Posted: Jan 20 2019, 4:18am CST | by , Updated: Jan 20 2019, 4:26am CST, in Latest Science News

 

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China’s First Moon Plant is Likely Dead
Credit: Chongqing University

The first-ever plant to be grown on the moon has been left to die as Chinese spacecraft plunged into lunar night.

The first cotton plant that sprouted on the far side of the moon has most likely died due to freezing temperatures. The experiment ended last Sunday after China's historic Chang'e-4 probe entered sleep mode during its first night on moon.

A lunar night lasts about two earth weeks and causes temperatures to drop up to minus 170 degrees Celsius. Therefore, temperatures inside the spacecraft were expected to plunge below minus 52 degrees Celsius, a point where organisms do not survive and freeze.

“Though we have two temperature controlling plates, the temperature was still above 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) around 10.30 a.m. on the moon. As everybody knows, many plants can't sprout with (that) temperature.” Professor Xie Gengxin of Chongqing University, who designed the experiment, told CNN.

Chinese space agency announced earlier that a tiny plant has grown in a special container inside the Chang'e-4 spacecraft, marking it the first plant to ever grow on moon. The bucket-like container inside spacecraft can hold air, water and soil and also had potato, arabidopsis seed as well as fruit fly eggs and yeast. Images taken by the probe showed that cotton sprout grew well, but the rest never germinated.

“This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface.” Gengxin said.

China's Chang'e-4 probe made the world's first soft landing on the far side of the moon January 3 and touched down Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole. Shortly after landing, a rover dubbed Yutu-2 or Jade Rabbit separated from the spacecraft and navigated through the surface on the moon's far side. The lunar far side always faces away from Earth and is relatively unknown. It has been observed many times from orbits around moon, but never explored on surface.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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