China Grew Cotton Plants on the Moon. They Died in the Darkness and the Cold

D-brief | 1/18/2019 | Staff
shankay (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/files/2019/01/cottonplantsmoon.jpg

Earlier this month, an experiment on China’s Chang’e 4 lander got cotton plants to sprout on the moon for the first time. Well, they’re already dead.

On Jan. 7, China’s space agency released pictures of cotton seeds beginning to grow on the Chang’e 4 lander. But, as reported by GBTimes on Jan. 16, the new sprouts haven’t survived the freezing temperatures on the lunar surface, even in their protective capsule. The cotton seeds sprouted inside of a container as part of the lunar mini-biosphere experiment aboard the lander. And, just over a week later, or some 213 hours, the experiment is over and the plants are dead, GBTimes reported. The seeds of other plants like potato, Arabidopsis, and rapeseed, as well as fruit-fly eggs and yeast were also placed within the experiment’s roughly six pound canister.

Humidity - Air - Water - Nutrients - Container

With controlled humidity, air, water, and nutrients, this container was specifically designed to keep these organisms alive. But the lunar surface is an extreme place for any living thing to grow. From the low gravity to the high radiation levels and extreme temperatures that can swing wildly from about minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit at night to 250 degrees Fahrenheit in the...
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