Chang’e-4’s Cotton Plants Died Soon After They’ve Sprouted On The Dark Side of The Moon

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Chinese scientists reported a few days ago that it grew the first plant ever on the Moon. More specifically, the cotton plants in the mini biosphere aboard Chang’e-4 Moon probe sprouted on the dark side of the Moon. However, now, two days after the announcement, another one came in stating that the cotton plants withered and died.

Reportedly, the cotton plants died when the Chang’e-4 lander, which now sits on the dark side of the Moon, as we already know, went into darkness and the temperature dropped to minus 170 degrees Celsius since the Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere to keep the warmth of sunlight on its surface.

According to Xie Gengxin of Chongqing University, the leading study’s author, the Chinese scientists behind the experiment were expecting the plants to die once the far side of the Moon rotates into darkness, away from the sunlight.

Cotton Plants on The Dark Side of The Moon Died Soon After They’ve Sprouted

“Life in the canister [mini biosphere aboard Chang’e-4 lander] would not survive the lunar night. We had no such experience before. And we could not simulate the lunar environment, such as microgravity and cosmic radiation, on Earth,” said Xie Gengxin.

Growing plants in space is not a new thing, as astronauts on the International Space Station achieved that feat already to experiment how plants behave in a zero-gravity environment. However, China was the first to grow plants on the Moon, and the Chinese experiment was meant to probe how could plants provide the needed oxygen for the fruit flies also placed in the mini biosphere within Chang’e-4 lander.

The experiment, dubbed as “a first in human history” by the Communist Party’s official newspaper, The People’s Daily, is indeed the first of its kind and would’ve offered precious information on the behavior of planets on the Moon in the perspective of the future Moon colony.