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China managed to germinate a cotton seed on the moon, but technical failures could not sustain the plant alive.
China managed, through the Chang'e-4 mission, to germinate a cotton plant with the aim of creating the first microecosystem on the terrestrial satellite. The plant was growing in a temperature-controlled sealed container, but the heating system failed and the sprout succumbed to the lunar cold.
The night on the moon lasts for two Earth weeks and can reach -170 degrees Celsius (below zero). Under these conditions, there was no chance that the plant would survive.
“During the 212.75 hours from startup to shutdown, the payload performed well. Some of the results exceeded our expectations, ”explained Xie Gengxin, the designer and dean of this experiment at the Institute of Advanced Technology of Chongqing University, who was responsible for the experiment.
The mission managed to send more than 170 images of the experiment. In the photographs you could see how the cotton bud was growing favorably. The last photo was taken on January 12. "We have obtained a massive amount of valuable data in this experiment," added Xie, quoted by CGTN.COM.
The objective of the Chang'e-4 probe was to form a simple minibiosphere, for which it transported in an 18-centimeter glass container hermetically sealed: air, water and earth seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato and arabidopsis, as well as eggs of fruit fly and some yeasts.
In this way, plants would generate oxygen and food so that other living beings can consume them, generating a circle composed of
producers, consumers and decomposers. Scientists from the Space Biology Research Team at Chongqing University School of Life Sciences. explained that drosophila melanogasters, as consumers, and yeast, as decomposers, would generate carbon dioxide by consuming oxygen for plant photosynthesis. Additionally, yeast can break down plant waste and drosophila melanogasters and grow, and can also serve as food for drosophila melanogasters.
The researchers also explained that, despite the fact that life on the Moon did not prosper, this experience helped them to obtain “an immenseamount of valuable information”And that the main objective was“ thepopularization of science“.
With information from: