While the United States government remains in a shut down state, China’s government is busy sprouting plants on the far side of Earth’s moon. China’s Chang’e probe — which made history last week when it sent back the first ever images from that distant part of the moon, was sent on a mission to experiment with life in an environment with much less gravity as our own planet. and according to China’s space program.
As reported by Inverse, the probe successfully sprouted a cotton seed inside the probe.
…a cotton seed successfully germinated inside a sealed chamber. The Chang’e 4 lander hosting the chamber made history earlier this month when it became the first ever craft to land on the far side of the moon, sparking new potential for scientific discovery about the moon’s makeup and origins.
The Chinese experiment is being done to help understand how plant life functions off planet. This is a vital step in the process if humans are going to truly explore and even colonize other planets in the universe.
The experiment is aimed at better understanding how plant life grows in an environment with just 17 percent the gravity of the Earth, advancing steps toward human settlements in space that go beyond the International Space Station.
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Even more encouraging news is that the other seeds that were sent with the probe have also sprouted, moving everything closer to the experiment’s goal of creating a complete ecosystem. If the plants can grow and thrive, they’ll be able to sustain the fruit flies that were sent to the moon as well, and those flies would in-turn help create more plant life.
The rapeseed and potato seeds sprouted soon after the cotton seeds. It’s designed to potentially form a complete ecosystem, as the plants grow and provide food for the fruit flies and the yeast processes the flies’ waste to help create more food.
With our own planet’s climate challenges, it’s exciting to think about experiments that really are laying the ground work for extraterrestrial exploration. Apparently, China’s using these experiments in preparation for a “space base.”
The success of the experiment could enable astronauts to grow cotton for clothes, rapeseed for oil and potatoes for food. Xie Gengxin, Ph.D., the researcher that designed the experiment, toldSouth China Moring Postthat “we have given consideration to future survival in space. Learning about these plants’ growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base.”
If I’m being honest, it does make me a little sad and jealous that China’s government values space flight, exploration, and colonization more than our own does. This is not to say China’s got a government I would want to live under, nor does it excuse their human rights violations, but there’s no denying that their Chang’e probes are conducting truly vital and groundbreaking work that could one day benefit us all.
From here, China plans to send a Chang’e-5 mission by the end of the year to collect samples. The space agency then plans to send a probe to Mars as early as next year. China’s space efforts are advancing at breakneck speed, witha team of experts predictinglast month that the country will be next to send a human to the moon.
Whatever Chang’e-5 brings back, it’s predecessor has already laid some important groundwork, and given our species its best look yet at something we could only dream about half a century ago. Here’s hoping our government gets reopened and one day soon is inspired by a new space race with China, or any other country that still sees the need for exploring space.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.