Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

October 2, 2019

Chinese scientists manage to grow leaves on the far side of the moon

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:03 PM

As you know there is a new space race kind of going on where a lot of countries are working towards making a habitat capable of sustaining human life on the Moon (and on Mars). One of the key things that humans need to survive is Oxygen and there is only so much filtration and chemical systems can do to produce Oxygen. There are limitations in artificial systems used to generate oxygen and the easiest way to create Oxygen is to use a system that is self sustaining and depending on the type produces edible food as well: Plants.

Till now growing plants on the Moon has been in the realm of Science Fiction but not anymore… well Technically speaking we have grown a plant but we still have a long way to go before we can plant a garden on the Moon. China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft achieved this milestone earlier when they managed to grow two cotton leaves in the 2.6 KG mini biosphere that was part of the payload on the spacecraft. The leaves lasted a lunar day (14.5 earth days) and died during the first lunar night due to the cold. The experiment continued until May though to test the longevity of the apparatus and all systems were green at that time.

Plants have been grown in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station, but this experiment marked the first time a seed had sprouted on the moon. Xie Gengxin of the advanced Technology Research Institute at Chongqing University, who led the design of the experiment, says he and the team are now writing scientific papers based on the results.

Xie says the team initially wanted to send a species of small tortoise on the voyage. However, the mission constraints were too great. “The weight of the Chang’e-4 probe demanded that the weight [of the experiment] can’t exceed three kilograms,” Xie said. The experiment had a pressure of one atmosphere. It was integrated with the spacecraft two months ahead of launch and spent another month in space before landing. “Even though it is very meaningful to choose tortoise, the oxygen inside the payload can only be used for about 20 days for turtles,” Xie says, in explaining why the idea was dropped.

Obviously there is a lot of work still remaining before we start talking about human colonies on the Moon, but we are a small step closer with this new achievement.

Source: IEEE Spectrum: China Grew Two Cotton Leaves on the Moon

– Suramya

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