China recently sent up a Moon lander which is going to collect data and conduct experiments on the lunar surface. Things are already paying off. It has conducted an experiment which marks the first time that humans have grown plants on the Moon. The lander has successfully sprouted small cotton plants as part of a biological experiment. Flowers and other plants have previously been grown in Earth orbit, though. Never on the moon.
China’s Chang’e-4 mission also marks the first time that a man-made vehicle landed on the far side of the Moon. The robot sent up has a lander and a rover which is carrying several experiments and devices to study the Moon’s surface.
There is a 6.6 pound canister that has six different biological species that they intend to grow on the surface. The canister contains seeds for potato, cotton, rapeseed, and Arabidopsis. Yeast and fruit fly eggs are also included in an attempt to form a small ecosystem. Xinhua reports that the Moon lander was able to sprout tiny cotton plants already. This is big news and the first step toward one day colonizing the moon.
The experiment was activated and given water soon after Chang’e-4 landed. It doesn’t seem like any of the other species in the canister are growing yet.