In January of this year, China drew a lot of attention as it landed its Chang'e-4 spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. The mission of this ship was the first to bring a mini-biosphere to our natural satellite and try to grow plants on lunar soil. – and it seems to have had a brief success.
The projects are to identify moon water properties, magnetic fields and radio signals.
The cylindrical biosphere carried by the ship, called the Lunar Microecosystem or LME, mimicked Earth's conditions (beyond microgravity and cosmic radiation) and contained: seeds (potato, cotton and rapeseed), fruit fly eggs, yeast and one species. weed called Arabidopsis thaliana. All of this died quickly except for cotton.
The main point here, however, is that a 3D reconstruction showed a two-leaf cotton bud developed, which is something to celebrate. But the little plant didn't last long – it died in two weeks due to the low temperatures.
The leader of this experiment, Xie Gengxin of the Chongqing University Institute of Technology Research, says he does not plan to publish scientific papers based on this research. However, he must continue to study the behavior of various life forms of the moon and how they survive – or not.
This small big step from China is also of interest to NASA and other space agencies that have plans for long-term space missions.
"Simply packing a few vitamins won't be enough to keep astronauts healthy while exploring deep space. They'll need fresh produce." – Nasa
There are several logistical reasons for developing space mission plants to be beneficial. The nutrients in supplements and packed meals, for example, break down over time and radiation speeds it up. Besides, it would not be necessary to carry so much prepared food on board the ships.
And other than that, we could also take into account the positive points in psychological terms.
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"We already know from our pioneering astronauts that fresh flowers and fresh gardens from the International Space Station create a beautiful atmosphere, and we will take a piece of Earth with us on our journeys. They are good for our psychological well-being on Earth and space. " – Nasa
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