By Alex Bellury, Senior Writer
Saturday, April 14th, 2018
(NEW FRONTIER NEWS) – China plans to create a mini biosphere on the dark side of the moon containing plant life and insects.
The experiment was designed by 28 Chinese universities and led by southwest China’s Chongqing University.
In December the Chang’e-4 lander and rover will take insects, plants, potato seeds and Arabidopsis – a small flowering plant belonging to the mustard family – to the moon.
The reason potato and Arabidopsis were chosen to be taken was that they’re easy to grow and are easy to observe.
Potatoes are also a good source of food for future astronomers living on the moon.
They will be placed in an 18 cm (7 inches) bucket-like tin with water, air, a nutrient solution, and a small camera and data transmission system.
Natural sunlight will be transported through a small tube to help out the plant life.
Although usually referred to as “the dark side of the moon”, the far side of the moon receives about the same amount of sunlight as the rest of the moon.
Once the plant life starts emitting oxygen, the silkworms will hatch out of their cocoons.
The silkworms will create carbon dioxide and waste, helping the plants to grow.
Though experiments with plant life have been performed in outer space, they were grown at an altitude of around 400 KM (249 miles).
In comparison, the moon is 380,000 KM (236,121 miles) away from earth.
“Our experiment might help accumulate knowledge for building a lunar base and long-term residence on the Moon,” Professor Liu Hanlong, chief director of the experiment and vice president of Chongqing University, told Xinhua news agency.
The biggest obstacle is the gravity of the moon, 16 percent compared to earth’s gravitational pull.
The effects of gravity in space have been shown to be negative in multiple studies.
The temperature will also be a big factor, as temperatures can go from -100° C (-148° F) to 100° C (212° F) on the moon.
Chief designer of the experiment, Xie Gengxin, said: “We have to keep the temperature in the ‘mini biosphere’ within a range from 1 degree to 30 degrees, and properly control the humidity and nutrition.”
China’s space program is currently a major focus of the nation, spending $3 billion a year on the program.
Connor, Neil. (April 2018). China plans to grow flowers and silkworms on the dark side of the moon. The Telegraph. The United Kingdom. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/13/china-plans-grow-flowers-silkworms-dark-side-moon/
Huang, Echo. (April 2018). China’s pioneers to the moon will be flowers and silkworms. Quartz. The United States. https://qz.com/1251821/chinas-pioneers-to-the-far-side-of-the-moon-on-the-change-4-will-be-flowers-and-silkworms/
Staff Writers. (April 2018). Flowers on the Moon? China’s Chang’e-4 to launch lunar spring. Space Daily. Australia. http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Flowers_on_the_Moon_Chinas_Change_4_to_launch_lunar_spring_999.html