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China Intends To Create A Biosphere On Earth’s Moon

Brendan Keene/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

China will bring insects, plants, flowers, and potatoes.

According to The Telegraph, China is looking take the unprecedented step of creating life on the moon by way of constructing a ‘mini biosphere’ on its far side.

The plans are part of China’s lunar mission slated for later this year.

The insects, plants, potato seeds and arabidopsis—a small flowering plant belonging to the mustard family - will be taken to the Moon on board the Chang'e-4 lander and rover in December.

They will be placed in an 18cm tall bucket-like tin made from special aluminum alloy materials, together with water, a nutrient solution, and a small camera and data transmission system.

A small tube will direct natural sunlight into the tin to help the plants and potato seeds grow. Although known figuratively as the "dark side" as it is unseen, the far side of the moon receives almost equal sunlight to the near side.

The goal is for the plants to provide the silkworms oxygen and sustenance, and in turn the insects will provide carbon dioxide and waste for the plants, allowing both organisms to thrive.

If successful, the experiment will move the world one step closer toward the realization of human residence on the Earth's sole satellite.

"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.

Though astronauts have successfully grown plants in space, none have attempted the task beyond low-Earth orbit.

"The environment on the Moon, 380,000 kilometres from the Earth, is more complicated," Xinhua said.

What extra obstacles does the moon present?

The moon’s gravity is only about 16 percent that of Earth’s, and its extreme climate will also present an issue: temperatures range from lower than -100 °C to higher than 100 °C.

And what will be next?

China aims to land a man on the moon sometime after 2030, most observers say, while last year an official said that it would “not take long” before Beijing approved a manned lunar project.

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