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Chinese engineer shows how people can grow flowers and vegetables on the moon

A Chinese engineer reveals how he grew the FIRST EVER plant on the MOON using a mini biosphere that kept him alive for 9 days, while the roots spread sideways instead of down

  • A team member from the Chang’e-4 mission explained gardening on the moon
  • The team created a small mini-biosphere and sprouted a cotton seed
  • The seed grew two leaves and the roots grew sideways instead of down

This week at the London Design Museum, one of the engineers behind the historic Chang’e-4 mission to the moon gave a demonstration of the ‘mini biosphere’ of the spacecraft where he and his team were the first ever seed on the moon helped germinate.

The presentation, provided by Xie Gengxin of Chongqing University, was part of the museum’s ‘Moving to Mars’ exhibition and shows a series of different technologies that allow people to survive in space and on other planets in the long term.

While previous groups had grown small plants in the orbit of the International Space Station, which orbit about 250 miles above the surface, no one had yet accomplished the moon performance.

A team of Chinese scientists built a mini biosphere gardening canister (pictured above) that was used to grow the first plant ever on the moon surface, a cotton seed

A team of Chinese scientists built a mini biosphere gardening canister (pictured above) that was used to grow the first plant ever on the moon surface, a cotton seed

Xie and his team devised a cylindrical garden capsule to try to bring gardening deeper into the space.

The capsule was about 8 centimeters long with a diameter of 6.5 inches and had a rectangular seed bed full of cotton, potato, rapeseed, a variety of weeds called Arabidopsis and fruit fly eggs.

A pipe was built into the top of the capsule to let sunlight in, and an irrigation system allowed the team to water the seeds periodically.

The atmospheric pressure in the cylinder was similar to that on earth, and they used special cooling equipment to keep the internal temperature around 98 ° farenheit. (External temperatures on the moon can reach heights of 260 ° farenheit.)

The team used two built-in cameras to photograph the progress of the seeds every 10 hours and to follow their development.

The bus contained a rectangular seed bed with a plastic grid, a remote irrigation system and a special tube for sunlight

The canister contained a rectangular seed bed with a plastic grid, a remote irrigation system and a special tube for sunlight

The canister contained a rectangular seed bed with a plastic grid, a remote irrigation system and a special tube for sunlight

The Chang'e-4 lunar lander (pictured above) was used to house the mini biosphere container, which kept the germinated cottonseed alive for nine days, during which it grew two leaves and spread its roots sideways instead of downwards

The Chang'e-4 lunar lander (pictured above) was used to house the mini biosphere container, which kept the germinated cottonseed alive for nine days, during which it grew two leaves and spread its roots sideways instead of downwards

The Chang’e-4 lunar lander (pictured above) was used to house the mini biosphere container, which kept the germinated cottonseed alive for nine days, during which it grew two leaves and spread its roots sideways instead of downwards

Xie Gengxin, an engineer at Chongqing University, was part of the Chang'e-4 team and helped design the mini biosphere bus, part of a larger research mission on the lunar surface

Xie Gengxin, an engineer from Chongqing University, was part of the Chang'e-4 team and helped design the mini biosphere container, part of a larger research mission on the lunar surface

Xie Gengxin, an engineer from Chongqing University, was part of the Chang’e-4 team and helped design the mini biosphere container, part of a larger research mission on the lunar surface

Their moment of history came after a few days, when the cottonseed sprouted two leaves and, strangely enough, its roots grew instead of straight down.

The team was able to keep the plant alive for nine days, or about 1/3 of a “Monday,” before finally letting it die when night fell. (A full day on the moon lasts the equivalent of 29 Earth days.)

On the moon, night temperatures can be as low as -279 ° farenheit.

The team was enthusiastic about the performance, both because of the logistical significance and the potential to offer emotional comfort to travelers who could eventually get homesick.

“If astronauts or space tourists can inhale plant-generated oxygen and see living, green things in space, it is sure to raise their mood,” Xie said New scientist.

WHICH PLANTS HAVE GROWN ON THE ISS DATE?

Plants grown so far in the international space station ISS include:

  • Arabidopsis
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • tulips
  • onions
  • peas
  • radish
  • Garlic
  • cucumbers
  • Parsley
  • Potato
  • Lettuce
  • sunflowers

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