China’s Plants on the Moon are Dying

Naomi Boodhoo, Staff Writer

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While the means seem rather absurd, China seeks to determine whether life on Earth could be sustained on the moon and goes about that venture through the medium of the Chang’e-4 experiments, an acclaimed project and timeless wonder of the human race. In the interest of potential human settlements, China has begun experiments to see how well life on Earth could acclimate to a completely different ecosystem a celestial body away.

The lunar spacecraft, Chang’e-4, was the first to land on the far side of the moon, where the artificial biosphere, a canister complete with eggs and yeast, works on cultivating multiple types of crops–including potatoes, Arabidopsis, and, the most well-known, cotton. Their cotton plants successfully germinated on the moon–the first plant life on another celestial body–but didn’t last for long after the lunar night approached, as it does about every twenty-seven earth days, where temperatures tend to drop under negative 52 degrees Celsius, or negative 62 degrees Fahrenheit. When day broke, the plants had withered away due to the cold temperatures.

This, however, does not make the Chang’e-4 mission a failure. Besides the aim of seeing whether the moon is a viable option for crops native to Earth, the spacecraft was intended to perform a low radio frequency experiment and determine whether water exists at the poles of the moon, among other goals. This will provide imperative background information on the mechanisms that humanity will have to consider when intending to extend our reach further than our own planet, in dreams of settlements.

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