Chinese astronauts to grow plants on the moon

There is no life on the moon, but Chinese astronauts will soon change that. On their mission to the moon in December, they will bring insects, plants and potato seeds. The Chinese will try to create a 'mini biosphere' on the dark side of the Moon, with flowers and silkworms sustaining each other as they grow.

One plant that will be part of the experiment is the arabidopsis—a small flowering plant belonging to the mustard family. The Daily Telegraph and Xinhua report that the plants and the potato seeds will be placed in an 18cm tall bucket-like tin made from special aluminum alloy materials, together with water, a nutrient solution, and a small camera and data transmission system. Sunlight, necessary for growth, will be directed into the tin via a small tube. The experiment is to be carried out on the dark side of the moon, that cannot be seen from the earth, but receives almost as much sunlight as the near side of the moon.

The concept of the experiment is to see the plants emitting oxygen, which will feed the silkworms hatching from their cocoons. The silkworms will them create carbon dioxide and produce waste that will allow the plants to grow. If the experiment is successful, it could be a major boost for dreams that we could one day live on the Moon.

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