Wednesday , October 5 2022

China announces that, in the probe that explores the dark side of the Moon, a plant was born


An outbreak of cotton, born of a seed brought to the dark side of the Moon by a Chinese mission, became the first plant that is born in a celestial body that is not Earth, the Chinese space agency (CNSA), which published the first images of the outbreak.

The Asian country took an important step through the Chang'e-4 mission: a video shows the outbreak guarded in a mini greenhouse with potato, canola and Arabidopsis seeds – a flowering plant -, yeast and egg Mosquito of fruit (Drosophila melanogasters).

The experiment was carried out in an airtight container where the temperature between 1 and 30 degrees Celsius is maintained; that is to say, well above the normal satellite conditions that vary between -123 degrees Celsius and 153.

The objective of the experiment, designed by 28 Chinese universities, is to recreate a small biosphere, an artificial and autonomous ecosystem, to test the possibility of cultivating fruits and vegetables on other planets for the maintenance of future human colonies.

In fact, the intention is to use cotton to make clothes, while potatoes could be a source of food for astronauts and canola would be used to make oil.

The seeds, reported by the Chinese news agencies, were subjected to a biological treatment to remain latent during the 20-day trip from Earth to the Moon.

Its growth began when the control center on the Earth sent an order to water the small greenhouse.

For a team of scientists from the University of Chongqing, this crop is the first "miniexperimento" of a biosphere successfully completed in the satellite. In the space destined for germination there is water, nutrients and receives natural light from the Earth's natural satellite, Xinhua said.

The South China Morning Post newspaper from Hong Kong today reported that the container where the seed germinated is an aluminum cylinder 18 centimeters high and 16 diameter, weighs 3 kilos and cost more than $ 1, 47 million.

"Learning about the growth of these plants in a low gravity environment will allow us to lay the foundations for the future establishment of a space base," said the professor Xie Gengxin, who designed this project, cited by the Ansa agency. In any case, the conditions are not perfect for these crops since the temperatures in the Moon can exceed 100 degrees Celsius during the day and lower to 100 below zero at night.

In addition, the satellite receives a greater solar radiation and has a lower gravity: one sixth of the one on Earth. The Chang'e-4 probe carried a sealed container of cotton seeds, rapeseed, potato and arabidopsis, as well as fruit fly eggs and some yeasts, to form a simple minibiosphere, according to a team led by scientists from the University of Chongqing. Plants would generate oxygen and food so that other living beings "consume".

Drosophila melanogasters, as consumers, and yeast, as decomposers, would generate carbon dioxide by consuming oxygen for photosynthesis of plants. In addition, the yeast can decompose plant residues and drosophila melanogasters and grow, and it can also serve as a drosophila melanogasters food. (Télam-Europa Press)

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