China might just have grown the first plant ever on the moon

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Sprouts from cotton seeds have emerged from a lattice-like structure in a metal canister inside the lander, China said.

"In addition, the yeast can decompose the waste of plants and drosophila melanogaster and grow, and can also serve as food of drosophila melanogaster".

Worldwide discussions about sending humans to the Moon and Mars have brought many challenges waiting to be solved, and among them is food supply.

The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate as it orbits our planet, so most of the far side - or "dark side" - is never visible to us.

Wu said Monday that NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang'e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to set down on the far side of the moon earlier this month.

Despite some climate challenges, such as the Moon's changing temperatures, Chinese state media posted a picture of the cotton seeds on Tuesday, and said the seeds were sprouting.

Now, in the first ever biological experiment to take place on the moon, cotton seeds housed in a sealed container on board the Chang'e 4 lander have begun to sprout.

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Until this experiment, the researchers said they weren't sure it was possible to grow plants in a low gravity environment.

Scientists from Chongqing University, who designed the "mini lunar biosphere" experiment, sent an 18cm bucket-like container holding air, water and soil.

As it sped through space, Chang'e-4 carried a mini biosphere in a canister - containing "the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato, and arabidopsis, as well as eggs of the fruit fly and some yeast", according to the Xinhua news agency.

Another payload on the lander, the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND) instrument developed in Germany, will also provide data relevant to future human exploration of the Moon.

This plant growth could support future long-term space exploration and habitation. For example, potatoes serve as a good source and can make rapeseed oil which is similar to canola oil.

Image: China's lunar rover Jade Rabbit 2.

Prof Xie Gengxin, the experiment's chief designer, was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post: "We have given consideration to future survival in space".

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