ChinaThe spacecraft Chang & # 39; e-4 took plants and animals to the moon after successfully landed yesterday on the dark side of Earth's natural satellite.
In addition to radiation monitoring and mineralogical experiments, the Chang-e-4 probe contains potato seeds, silkworm eggs, and arabidopsis seeds – plants related to cabbage and salt. mustard that are commonly used by biologists as a model of plant behavior in different environments.
The seeds and eggs are kept in a small cylindrical tin and should grow in the 0.8 L container.
The "mini lunar biosphere" is part of Beijing 's biological studies in the space, which plans to build a lunar base and put people on the moon by 2036.
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The Chinese spacecraft Chang & # 39; e 4 (left), who landed yesterday away from the moon, brought seed potatoes, silkworm eggs and seeds of arabidopsis in a small tin can (right)
Scientists hope the seeds will grow on the moon in 100 days and that silkworm eggs will hatch and become moths. The seeds and eggs are kept in a "mini lunar biosphere"
The researchers hope that the potato and arabidopsis seeds will flourish on the moon in 100 days, the process being captured in front of a camera and transmitted to the Earth, according to a previous report by Huanqiu.com quoting the Xinhua news agency.
It is also expected that silkworm eggs will hatch into larvae before becoming silkworm moths.
The 3.6 kg (3 kg) box is made from a specially developed aluminum alloy. It measures 7 inches (18 cm) tall, 16 inches in diameter and a net volume of 0.8 liters.
In addition to seeds, it contains water, a nutrient solution, air and equipment, including a small camera and a data transmission system.
The 0.8 L cylindrical tin was designed by experts from Chongqing University, in southwest China. It is equipped with insulating layers and a mini air conditioning system
Ouyang Ziyuan (photo), a chief space scientist, said last month that the "mini lunar biosphere" was an experiment designed to satisfy men's curiosity about space and that it would be difficult to predict its results.
Astronauts have already grown plants on the International Space Station. Rice and arabidopsis were also grown in the Tiangong-2 space laboratory in China.
Both experiments were conducted in low Earth orbit and under very different conditions.
S addressing Xinhua last year, the chief designer of the "mini lunar biosphere", Xie Gengxin, described the experience as "significant". Xie said this could be a breakthrough for them to understand how humans could survive on an extraterrestrial planet.
Zhang Yuanxun, director of the Research Center associated with deep space exploration in China, said the difficulties of the experiment consisted in controlling temperatures and ensuring the supply of food. energy of the "mini lunar biosphere" in the "complex" environment of the Moon.
A Chinese rover makes his mark on the soft surface of the "dark side" of the moon after landing on our nearest celestial neighbor. The Yutu-2 rover – or Jade Rabbit 2 – left its landing ramp to get to the outside of the moon, similar to snow, at 22:22 local time
A "short-range" image never seen before, taken by the Chinese probe Chang & # 39; e-4 on the surface of the hidden side of the moon. It seems to take a reddish hue in some of the images released by China, an effect of the lights used by the probe
The lunar day and night each last 14 days, half of its orbit around the Earth. Surface temperatures can range from a high of 127 ° C to a low of -173 ° C (-279 ° F).
To control temperatures, scientists put insulation layers around the tin can and built a mini indoor air conditioning system in the hope that it could create a pleasant environment for growth Plant.
To get energy, tin will be powered by Chang 's solar panels during the day and by its internal batteries during the night.
Researchers from 28 Chinese universities are behind the project, led by the University of Chongqing (southwestern China).
The lunar explorer landed at 10:26 local time (2:26 GMT). Chang & # 39; e-4 will attempt to recognize the Von in the Aitken Basin, the largest impact crater of the entire solar system, with a depth of 13 km and a diameter of 2,500 km.
This photo of Yutu-2 was taken from the undercarriage while the vehicle was being released. It shows a close-up of one of the wheels of Yutu-2
Photographs of the Chang-e-4 probe as it lands, becoming the first rover to reach the surface of the dark side of the moon
Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of the Moon's exploration programs in China, remains modest. He told Chinese magazine The Cover last month that the "lunar mini-biosphere" was an experiment aimed at satisfying men's curiosity about space and that it would be difficult to predict results.
But the main cosmochemist, nicknamed "Chang's father," also said that the launch of Chang & # 39; e 4 was only the beginning of China's ambitious space missions.
During an interview in May, Mr Ouyang said that China plans to send Chang 5 to the Moon in 2019 to dig the surface and bring back geological samples to Earth.
He also confirmed China's plan to land on Mars in 2020, to build a lunar base called "Lunar Palace" on the moon and send astronauts on our nearest celestial neighbor.
Why is the far side of the moon known as the "dark side"?
The hidden side of the Moon – colloquially known as the "dark side" – receives as much light as the near face but is still facing the outside of the Earth.
Less than a fifth of the opposite half of the moon is still visible and it was only in 1959 that we received images of what it looked like when the Soviet vessel Luna 3 returned captured the mysterious region.
In 1968, astronauts aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft were the first humans to observe the hidden face as they gravitated around the moon.
Since then, several missions by NASA and other space agencies have imaged the dark side of the moon.
These include the NASA Deep Impact spacecraft, which captured the impact of 49 million km in 2008.
This relatively unexplored region is mountainous and rugged, making the successful landing much more difficult to achieve.
Christopher Conselice, professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham, said the hidden face was much steeper and its volcanic activity was lower than that observed on the Earth.
Chang-e-4 has been described as "extremely ambitious" and presented as a sign of China's growing intentions to compete with the feats of space exploration of the United States, Russia and the United States. 39; EU.
It sits in the Von Karman crater of Aitken Basin, on the far side or dark side of the moon, at 10:26 am local time (2:26 GMT) yesterday. He transmitted to the Earth an image never before seen of the unexplored surface.
It's the first time in human history that a spaceship lands on the other side of the moon.
A lunar rover, the Yutu-2 – or Jade Rabbit 2 – left Chang's ramp & # 39; e 4 to get to the outside, similar to the snow, from the hidden side of the moon to 22:22 pm local time (14:22 GMT).
A photo published online by the Chinese Space Agency shows the traces of the rover left while he was away from the spacecraft.
Jade Rabbit 2, which weighs 139 kg (308 lbs), has six individually powered wheels, so that it can continue to operate even in the event of a wheel failure.
It can climb a hill of 20 degrees or an obstacle of 20 cm maximum height and its maximum speed is 200 meters per hour.
It is 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and about 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide and tall, with two foldable solar panels and six wheels.
The rover and the lander who accompanies it will carry out mineral, biological and radiation tests before a future base that China hopes to build on the Moon.
The results of these experiments could provide a better understanding of the challenges faced by settlers who may someday colonize our natural satellite.