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The China National Space Administration has announced a second “first-ever” in space exploration on Tuesday as tiny sprouts sprang up from cotton seeds taken on a spacecraft that made a successful maiden journey to the far side of the moon this month.
“It marks the first time any biological matter has grown on the Moon and is being seen as a significant step towards long-term space exploration,” the BBC reported. “Plants have been grown on the International Space Station before but never on the Moon.”
Xie Gengxin, dean of Institute of Advanced Technology at Chongqing University, and the chief designer of the experiment praised the achievement on the university’s blog.
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“This (mission) has achieved the first biological experiment on the moon of human history, to sprout the first bud on the desolate moon. And with time moving on, it’ll be the first plant with green leaves on the moon,” Xie said.
Chinese scientists are also attempting to grow seeds from rapeseed, potato, and mouse-ear cress, and are trying to hatch fruit fly eggs. According to the university’s blog, the experiment will show how life develops in low gravity and strong radiation environments. It could even help provide a blueprint for growing resources during a future moon colony established by humans.
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