Published: Tue, January 15, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

China and NASA shared data about historic moon landing

China and NASA shared data about historic moon landing

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

It touched down on 3 January, carrying instruments to analyse the region's geology.

Charles Cockell, a professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, told Newsweek that the latest achievement is "very significant" because it shows a proof of concept for growing plants on the moon.

China exchanged data with NASA on its recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency said Monday, in what was reportedly the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval.

It would mean that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space, reducing the need to come back down to Earth to resupply.

The plants are in a sealed container on board the lander.

He said cotton could eventually be used for clothing while the potatoes could be a food source for astronauts and the rapeseed for oil.

Liu Hanlong, who is leading the experiment, said that the cotton seeds were the first to sprout, in comments to the South China Morning Post.

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"From the images sent back from Chang'e 4, we can see the area surrounding the probe is dotted with craters of different sizes, and it's very hard for the rover to drive in the region", explained Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang'e 4 probe, according to Xinhua.

Fred Watson, Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer-at-large, told the BBC the development was "good news".

The landing is a milestone for China's fledgling space program, marking the first time that China has completed a significant space mission that was not already performed previously by the U.S. or Russian Federation.

"China, the U.S., Russian Federation and countries from Europe are all studying whether to set up a research base or station on the moon, like if we can build houses with lunar soil via 3-D printing technology", China's CGTN network quoted Wu as saying.

They only began growing once ground control centre sent a command to the probe to water the seeds.

Images sent back by the probe show a cotton plant has grown well, but so far none of the other plants had sprouted, the university said.

Image: China's lunar rover Jade Rabbit 2. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.

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