China reveals plans to 3D print houses on the Moon's surface


The confirmation that cotton seeds have begun to sprout aboard China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander marks the first time biological matter has been grown on the Moon's surface.

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

The Chang'e-4 probe, which landed on the "dark" or far side of the Moon on January 3, is housing an airtight container designed for growing plants and crops in shocking conditions. It has now achieved another first: a seed successfully germinating while on the Moon. The temperature on the lunar surface can climb up to 100 degrees Celsius (202 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and drop to negative 100 degrees at night.

The director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Anatoly Petrukovich, has explained the biological experiment that was carried out on board of Chang'e-4, where two containers were placed -one with potato seeds and the other with silk moth larvae.

The lunar mini biosphere was designed in a canister to test photosynthesis. All countries are welcome to participate in China's follow-up lunar exploration and deep space exploration projects, he said. "Learning about these plants' growth in a low gravity environment would allow us to lay foundation for our future establishment of (a) space base".

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The overarching implications of this successful experiment are huge. While the seed potatoes and rapeseed had also germinated in the sealed container, the cotton seeds were the first to sprout.

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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. This significant event is the first time that a biological experiment was conducted by humankind on the moon.

China's space administration also released a 12-minute video of Chang'e 4's landing, using more than 4,700 images taken by an on-board camera.

The far side of the Moon, which humans know much less about than the side that faces the Earth, is often mistakenly called the "dark" side, though it is not actually deprived of light.