China has grown a plant on the moon for the first time. It is a huge breakthrough in space exploration and the first biological experiment on the moon as well.
China’s Chang’e-4 mission brought the cotton seeds to the moon. The sprouting of these has marked the first time biological matter has been grown there.
However, the plant is not in contact with the lunar surface. The cottonseeds along with the potato seeds, yeast, and fruit fly eggs are enclosed in a sealed-self-sustained biosphere, which ensures the necessary nourishment and climate.
While this itself is a big achievement, there is a lot more to do. Although the plant has sprouted, it needs to continue growing. That will not be easy given the drastically varying temperatures and the lower gravity on the moon.
The spacecraft has to make huge changes for preserving the biosphere’s conditions and ensuring the consistency of its interior relativity.
Despite the big challenges, one cannot deny that the experiment is a big achievement. It has laid down the foundation for further experiments, suggesting that there is a realistic chance for astronauts to grow plants on missions that can be used for oil, food, and other resources.
If the means of subsistence can be made available on the Moon, it means less cargo load for long-term missions to Mars and Moon. It can also enable the missions to stay longer even when the initial supplies have run low.