China Took Cotton Seeds to the Moon and It Might be the First Plant Ever to Grow There

Photo of a cotton seed sprouting on the moon on January 12, nine days after the experiment began.

Cotton seeds carried to the moon by a Chinese probe have sprouted, marking what could be the first plant to ever grow there, according to Chinese government images.

In making the announcement Tuesday, Chinese researchers released pictures from the probe showing the tiny plant growing in a small pot inside the spacecraft, hundreds of thousands of kilometers away from the Earth.

China became the first country to land a probe on the far side of the moon on January 3 when a rover named Yutu 2, or Jade Rabbit 2, touched down in the moon’s largest and oldest impact crater, the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

The mission, titled Chang’e 4, is intended to accomplish a range of tasks, including conducting the first lunar low-frequency radio astronomy experiment and exploring whether there is water at the moon’s poles.

Another purpose of the mission was to test whether plants could grow in a low-gravity environment, a test which appears to have already yielded results.

The system started to water the seedlings after the probe landed and less than a week later a green shoot had already appeared.

While human beings have grown plants in space before, they’ve never attempted to grow one on the moon.

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SOURCE: CNN, Ben Westcott and Yong Xiong