The Chinese probe will grow potatoes on the back side of the moon. Wait a second, what ?!
"Chang'e-4", the Chinese probe to successfully implement a soft landing on the dark side of the moon (for the first time in the history of mankind), and named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, among other scientific experiments, took a 3-pound aluminum container with a few potatoes, seeds of Arabidopsis and a handful of silkworm eggs. In combination with air, water and a special nutrient solutions, the container is a whole ecosystem. Potato and Arabidopsis will breathe oxygen by absorbing carbon dioxide exhaled by the silkworm.
The closed ecosystem "Chang'e-4": life in the container
The success of China's space program will tell us how much is extremely low gravity of the moon affects the growth of living organisms and the quality of the silk worms are weaved.
Despite the fact that NASA and other space agencies have already grown a variety of plants and animals on the International Space Station, it occurred in low Earth orbit, where gravity is 90% of the earth. On the Moon the gravity is only 17% of the earth, which significantly slows the growth of organisms. Aluminum Biosphere "Chang'e-4" insulated and equipped with its own power source, which will allow it to cope with fluctuations of illumination and temperature on the Moon, but with gravity it can not do anything. The experiment will show how problematic this can be a unique environment for future lunar farmers. Already it is clear that growing food on the moon will not be easy. As scientists discovered the ISS, the water collects in beads in low gravity; Water, which is sprayed on the station plants, often stuck to them or to a material in which plants are grown. In 2014, it became known that people need at least 15% of the Earth's gravity, to understand where the top, so not at all clear whether the plant will be able to grow and worms as usual with a weak lunar gravity to 17% of the earth.
According to the Chinese news agency "Xinhua", the life of the small lunar explorers will follow small cameras and sensors that transmit data in the cylinder.
Biosphere containing seed of Arabidopsis and potato with silkworm cocoons, was jointly developed 28 Chinese universities.
"We already know that plants, including Arabidopsis and potato, as well as silkworms thrive in microgravity, so the biosphere climate-controlled on the moon probably will cope with the task, but the experiment itself improbable, because no one has ever done" , says Anna-Lisa Paul, a space biologist at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
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