Seeds Start Sprouting on the Moon

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China's National Space Administration applauded the event as a first that "lifted the mysterious veil" of the far side of the moon and claimed it as a major achievement for the country's ambitious space programme. Marked as first in the history of space exploration, Chang'e-4 landed on the far side of the moon, then sent back to Earth photos of the probe's lander and the rover taking snapshots of each other.

The plans underscore China's ambitions in space at a time when the U.S. is curtailing NASA's budget and increasingly handing over space exploration to commercial adventurers, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

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. Chongqing University calls the experiment a "lunar mini biosphere". Dubbed a moon surface micro-ecological circle, the 18-centimeter high aluminum alloy cylinder contains silkworm eggs and seeds for potatoes and rockcress (Arabidopsis thaliana, a flowering plant related to mustard and cabbage).

Growing plants on the Moon is - and this is a technical term, here - tricky.

The ability to grow plant life on the Moon or in deep space could have a number of benefits for manned space voyages in the future.

"Chang'e-4 will measure the temperature differences between the day and night on the moon, helping scientists estimate the properties of the lunar soil", she said.

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"This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface", said Xie Gengxin, who led the design of the experiment, on Tuesday.

"It is a technology that we must master if we want to go to the moon's polar regions or deep space farther than Jupiter, where solar power can not be used as the primary power source", he said. The cotton can make material for astronaut's clothes.

According to Fred Watson of the Australian Astronomical Observatory, the development represented a step in the right direction. But at a news conference this week, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of CNSA, said the two space agencies shared data related to the recent moon landing.

With the success of the cotton underway, China plans to continue its plans for further space exploration The goal of the next moon probe will be to bring samples of the moon back to Earth.

China wants to create a legacy of having a cutting-edge space program.

Wu also revealed that China will send a probe to Mars around 2020.

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