The Chinese probe will grow potatoes on the far side of the moon. Wait a second, what ?!

"Chang'e-4", a Chinese probe, successfully implementeda soft landing on the dark side of the moon (for the first time in human history) and bearing the name of the Chinese goddess of the moon, among other scientific experiments, took with him a 3-pound aluminum container with several potatoes, arabidopsis seeds and a handful of silkworm eggs. In combination with air, water and special nutrient solutions, this container is a whole ecosystem. The potatoes and arabidopsis will exhale oxygen, absorbing the carbon dioxide exhaled by the silkworm.

Closed ecosystem "Chang'e-4": life in a container

The success of the Chinese space program will tell us how strongly the extremely low gravity of the moon affects the growth of living organisms and the quality of silk woven by worms.

Despite the fact that NASA and other spacethe agencies had already grown various plants and animals on the International Space Station, this took place in a low earth orbit, where gravity represents 90% of the Earth's. On the moon, gravity is only 17% of the Earth’s, which significantly slows down the growth of organisms. The Chang'e-4 aluminum biosphere is isolated and equipped with its own source of energy, which will allow it to cope with the differences in lighting and temperatures on the Moon, but she cannot do anything with gravity. The experiment will show how problematic such a unique environment can be for future lunar farmers.

And without that it is obvious that the cultivation of products onThe moon will not be easy. As scientists found on the ISS, water accumulates in balls in low gravity conditions; the water that was sprayed on the plants at the station often adhered to them or to the material in which the plants grew. In 2014, it became known that people need at least 15% of earth's gravity to understand where the top is, so it is not at all obvious whether plants and worms will grow as usual with weak lunar gravity in 17% of earthly.

According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, the life of the little lunar pioneers will be monitored by small cameras and sensors that transmit data in a cylinder.

The biosphere containing arabidopsis seeds and silkworm cocoon potatoes was developed jointly by 28 Chinese universities.

“We already know that plants, including Arabidopsisand potatoes, as well as silkworms, feel great in conditions of microgravity, so the climate controlled biosphere on the moon's surface will surely cope with its task, but the experiment itself is incredible because nobody has done this yet, ”says Anna-Lisa Paul, a space biologist University of Florida-Gainesville.

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