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15 January 2019, 07:59 | Edward Lowe
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Reports from China indicate that the cotton seeds have germinated while the lander is parked on the far side of the moon.
The breakthrough is a massive leap towards sustainable deep space colonization.
The Chang'e-4 lander, which carries the 3 kg biosphere, imaged by the Yutu-2 rover on the far side of the Moon in January 2019. The previous version erroneously stated the second image with the large sprout as being the Moon-based experiment.
Cotton seedlings are growing in a habitat on the moon. It could mean that humans could potentially be sustainable in space without needing resupplies from Earth. Fruit flies, they added, "as consumers, and yeast, as decomposers, would generate carbon dioxide by consuming oxygen for photosynthesis of plants". The yeast is used to decompose plant material and provide the files with other food sources. "With this circle, a mini biosphere comprising producers, consumers and decomposers is formed", says the Chongqing University page. Liu Hanlong, chief of the first biological growth experiments on the moon, said rapeseed and potato seeds have also sprouted, but cotton was first.
The landing is a milestone for China's fledgling space program, marking the first time that China has completed a significant space mission that was not already performed previously by the U.S. or Russian Federation.
The lunar mission by Chang'e 4 and its rover, Jade Rabbit 2, was a triumph for China's growing space program, which has been rapidly catching up with those of Russian Federation and the US President Xi Jinping has placed space exploration among the country's national development priorities and the far side mission offered a chance for China to do something not done before by any other country.
"My firm belief is that we should integrate China into the International Space Station program".
Both the lander and the rover entered a "sleep mode" on Sunday as the first lunar night after the probe's landing fell, Wu said.
"Experts are still discussing and verifying the feasibility of subsequent projects, but it's confirmed that there will be another three missions after Chang'e 5", said Wu. It's also exploring options for a crewed moon mission.
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"China, the U.S., Russian Federation and countries from Europe are all studying whether to set up a research base or station on the moon, like if we can build houses with lunar soil via 3-D printing technology", China's CGTN network quoted Wu as saying.
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