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It’s official, for the first time ever, scientists have found a living organism on the Moon! Well, not so much found, we put it there. But the implications are immense nonetheless! According to photos and a statement released by the China National Space Administration this week (Mon. Jan. 14th), the
Chang’e-4 mission’s Lunar Micro Ecosystem (LME) experiment has produced its first sprouted plant.
News - Weeks - Combination - History - Mission
This news comes less than two weeks after the Chang’e-4 combination lander-rover made history by becoming the first robotic mission to land on the far side of the Moon. It was also the first time that the CNSA had conducted a soft landing as part of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (aka. Chang’e Project). It is therefore fitting that this mission would be the first to grow plants on the lunar surface.
In the past, experiments have been conducted aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and China’s Tiangong-2 space lab – where plants, rice and arabidopsis (aka. rock cress) were cultivated. However, these experiments took place in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), which is a microgravity environment. The planners of the Chang’e-4 mission therefore sought to include an experiment that would test how organisms fared in lunar gravity.
LME - Experiment - Play - Stainless-steel - Cylinder
This is where the LME experiment comes into play – a sealed stainless-steel cylinder that contains bioscience test loads, including one called a “moon surface micro-ecological circle”. Consisting of seeds and insect eggs, the purpose this experiment is to test whether Earth plants and organisms can grow in the harsh conditions and reduced gravity on the lunar surface.
According to Professor Liu Hanlong – the Dean of Chongqing University’s School of Civil Engineering, who is leading the experiment – the first thing to sprout were the cotton seeds. An image sent back (shown above) by the lander provided a glimpse inside of the experiment and...
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