China grows the first seed on the Moon

Light was channeled into a tube in the canister, allowing a cotton seed to sprout.

That makes it the first truly otherworldly plant in history.

However, plants have successfully been grown on the global Space Station (ISS).

The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate as it orbits our planet, so most of the far side - or "dark side" - is never visible to us.

This marks the first time that humans have conducted a biological experiment on the moon's surface and the first time that any biological matter has grown on the moon - at least that we know of.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe landed on January 3 and transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the far side of the moon.

Despite some climate challenges, such as the Moon's changing temperatures, Chinese state media posted a picture of the cotton seeds on Tuesday, and said the seeds were sprouting.

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Seeds carried to the moon by China's Chang'e-4 mission have sprouted, says China National Space Administration.

Chinese scientists describe the mini biosphere as an "outer space ecosystem experiment" that will "reveal the growth and development status of plants and animals under the low gravity, strong radiation and natural lighting conditions of the moon".

The space agency plans to launch a Chang'e-5 mission at the end of 2019 with the goal of collecting samples from the near side of the moon, Wu said. They also added yeast, fruit fly eggs and the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato and rock cress-a flowering plant in the mustard family. He said that the cotton and rapeseed were chosen because they could provide the astronauts with the raw material needed to produce clothing and oil.

"Although it is a biological payload, it laid a foundation and technological support for our next step, that is, to build a lunar base for living", said Xie Gengxin, chief designer of the biological experiment payload, Chang'e-4 lunar mission.

Wu Yanhua, the deputy head of the China National Space Administration also announced that China will send a mission to Mars in 2020.

According to Wu, Chang'e 6 will be on a mission to collect samples from the Moon's South pole and later missions will be created to conduct surveys of the surrounding area.

  • Douglas Reid