It contains soil and cotton, rape, arabidopsis and potato seeds.
Experts say that the latest accomplishment-which builds on the work of astronauts who have previously grown plants on the International Space Station-is a substantial boost for humanity's hopes of accomplishing long-term space exploration. Keeping the temps within an acceptable range is one of the most hard parts of the experiment, as the Moon swings from a freezing -279 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (-173 to 212 degrees Celsius) or above.
In Minneapolis, the event will begin at 8:36 p.m.as the Earth's penumbra starts touching the moon's edge. This of course marks the first time that a plant has ever grown on the Moon, with the seeds naturally sprouting in a specially designed and concealed container. And even the cotton plant is looking pretty peaky compared to seedlings in a control setup the scientists established on Earth.
China's ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily tweeted an image of a sprouted cottonseed with the caption "the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the Moon". These tiny seeds are enclosed in a sealed container on the Chang'e 4 lander, and these crops could eventually form a self-sustaining biosphere on the moon. The lander also brought rock cress, fruit fly eggs, and yeast to the moon, all chosen because they were small, hardy organisms that could thrive in a confined space. Professor Liu Hanlong, head of the experiment, stated in the seed sprout announcement, "We have given consideration to future survival in space". China has big ambitions of becoming a comparable top-tier space power with plans to send a crewed mission to the moon (the last one came in 1972) and to establish a research base there someday.
The plans underscore China's ambitions in space at a time when the U.S. is curtailing NASA's budget and increasingly handing over space exploration to commercial adventurers, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
Another payload on the lander, the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND) instrument developed in Germany, will also provide data relevant to future human exploration of the Moon. The cotton can make material for astronaut's clothes.
The China National Space Administration is working to send a probe to the Red Planet, said Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the agency.