Research

The first plant died on the moon

Information Agency "Xinhua" with reference toScientists at Chongqing University report that the only cotton seed that sprouted inside a special closed capsule delivered by the Chang'e-4 spacecraft to the surface of the far side of the moon has died. The first ever plant grown on the surface of the moon did not withstand the harsh conditions of the coming moonlit night, which, however, was expected, the report said.

After January 3, the spacecraft"Chang'e-4" made a successful soft landing on the surface of the far side of the moon, the Chinese space control center gave the probe to the command to begin a biological experiment. The device began to supply water in a closed ecosystem, initiating the process of seed growth.

A mini-biosphere sent to the moon representsan integral aluminum container in which various samples of biological life were placed (cotton seeds, rapeseed, potatoes, rezuhovidki, fruit fly larvae (Drosophila), silkworms and yeast. Natural sunlight required for growth was supplied through transparent windows on the container.

On Sunday, January 13 due to theon a lunar night (complete absence of direct sunlight, lasts almost 15 Earth days) the probe Chang'e-4 entered hibernation mode. The temperature on the satellite surface dropped to -170 degrees Celsius.

"Life, even in a closed container, cannot survive a moonlit night," says Professor Xie Genshin of Chongqing University, who is the chief engineer of a biological experiment.

It is reported that the only germinated sproutcotton seed from the onset of the moonlit night lived only one day. The fate of other biological samples is not reported, but, most likely, they suffered the same fate.

The experiment is completed, writes Chineseinformation edition. According to the Chinese National Space Administration, the organisms inside the container will eventually decompose completely and will not harm the lunar environment.

Despite the fact that the crews of the InternationalThe space station had already cultivated some plant species, and rice and arabidopsis (a family of cabbage) were grown on board the Chinese space laboratory "Tyangun-2", all of these experiments were conducted in a low near-earth orbit, at an altitude of about 400 kilometers above the Earth. Wednesday Moon, located 380,000 kilometers from Earth, is much more severe and difficult, the newspaper writes.

“Previously, such experiments were not conducted. On Earth, it is impossible to create an artificial lunar environment in view of its microgravity and cosmic radiation background, ”comments Xie Genshin

Chinese scientists believe that the knowledge gainedin the course of a biological experiment on the moon, it may be useful in the construction of the lunar base and planning a long-term stay on Earth's satellite.

Xie Genshin adds that the experiment was calledto inspire the younger generation, prompting among them the interest in space research, as well as various scientific fields, in particular research in the field of photosynthesis.

In developing the mission, Chang'e-4 is activelypublic assistance was involved. With the support of the Chinese National Space Administration, the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Space Technologies and other organizations, in 2015, a competition was held among schoolchildren and students to collect ideas for the payload of the future spacecraft. The lunar mini-biosphere experiment was selected among more than 250 applications submitted.

You can discuss the result of the experiment in our Telegram-chat.