Seeds Sprout on the Moon - for the First Time Ever

These are the first sprouted seeds under conditions of lunar gravity and radiation, China Central Television (CCTV) reports.

The cotton seeds delivered to the Moon on China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft have sprouted in sealed container under the conditions of lunar gravitation, reports Chinese state TV broadcaster CCTV. Experts say the results of the experiment are important for future manned missions to planets of the Solar system.

In the biological experiment, the Lunar Micro Ecosystem, cotton seeds have sprouted inside a sealed container with a nutritional medium. The main goal of the experiment was to create a closed mini-biosphere under the conditions of lunar gravity, increased radiation load and temperature drops. In addition to cotton seeds, potato seeds, rapeseed and Arabidopsis thaliana, and the eggs of fruit flies and yeast were also present in the container, where a tube provided natural light for photosynthesis.

The shots transmitted to Earth clearly show that plant samples have already produced the first sprouts. The photographs of the sprout were taken by a micro camera that constantly monitors the processes in the container. Scientists continue to monitor the state of the biological samples.

Humanity is capable of growing plants in space -- including flowers and greens on the International Space Station -- but this is the first time such an experiment was conducted on the Moon.

Scientists from Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IMDB RAS) noted that perhaps the remaining seeds was not able to germinate due to overheating in the containers.

“The ability to grow plants on the Moon is an important step in work on the life support of long-term interplanetary missions, for example, to Mars. Crews of missions must be able to grow food in space, to eliminate the need to return to Earth to replenish stock,” leading specialist from the IMBP RAS, Margarita Levinskih, told Asgardia Space News.

On 7 December 2018, the Chang’e-4 spacecraft was launched to the Moon from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. On 3 January 2019, the probe has successfully landed in the Von Karman crater, transmitting images of the surrounding terrain back to Earth. The probe has become the first spacecraft that successfully made a soft landing on the far side of the Moon. The mission is includes photographing the surface of the Earth’s satellite, studying the composition of the ground, and examining the possibility of conducting observations with lunar radiotelescopes.