News Agency “Xinhua” with reference to the Chongqing University scientists reports that a single seed of cotton grown inside a special sealed capsule, delivered by the spacecraft “Chang’e-4” on the surface of the back side of the moon, has died. The first plant grown on the surface of the moon, could not stand the harsh conditions of the coming lunar 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 back side of the moon, China’s space control center gave the probe the command to start a biological experiment. The unit began the flow of water in a closed ecosystem, initiating the growth process of seeds.
Sent to the moon mini-biosphere is a one-piece aluminum container in which were placed various samples of biological life (seeds of cotton, rape, potatoes, rezhevichi, fruit fly larvae (Drosophila), silkworm and yeast fungi. Necessary for the growth of natural sunlight moved through the container transparent window.
Sunday, January 13 due to the coming lunar night (no direct sunlight, lasts about 15 earth days), the probe “Chang’e-4” entered in hibernation mode. The temperature on the surface of the satellite has dropped to -170 degrees Celsius.
“Life, even in a closed container is not able to survive the lunar night,” says Professor Xie Hensing from Chongqing University, serving as chief engineer of the biological experiment.
It is reported that only sprouted the germ of the cotton seed from the occurrence of moonlit nights have lived only for one day. About the fate of other biological samples is not reported, but most likely they suffered the same fate.
The experiment is over, writes Chinese news publishing. As reported in the China national space administration, the organisms inside the container eventually completely decompose and not harm the surrounding lunar environment.
Despite the fact that the crews of the International space station have already cultivated some kinds of plants and aboard the Chinese space laboratory “Tiangong-2” were grown on rice and Arabidopsis (family Brassicaceae), all these experiments were conducted in low earth orbit, at an altitude of about 400 kilometers above the Earth. The environment of the moon in 380 000 km from the Earth, much harsher and more difficult, the newspaper writes.
“Previously, such experiments have not been conducted. On the Ground is impossible to create an artificial lunar environment, given its microgravity and cosmic background radiation”, comments CoE Gensini.
Chinese scientists believe that the knowledge gained in the course of the biological experiment on the moon, can be useful in the construction of lunar bases and the planning of long-term stay on the Earth’s satellite.
CE Gancini adds that the experiment was designed to inspire the younger generation, but among them interest to space research, and various scientific fields, particularly research in the field of photosynthesis.
When developing the mission “Chang’e-4” were actively involved in assistance to the public. With the support of the China national space administration, Ministry of education of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of space technology and other organizations in 2015 among students was held a competition to collect ideas for payloads of the future spacecraft. Experiment “the lunar mini-biosphere” was selected among more than 250 applicants.