Pic A tiny cotton seed brought to the Moon's surface by a Chinese spacecraft has apparently just sprouted, quite possibly making it the first Earth-based plant to start growing on our rocky satellite.
Along with the plants, fruit fly eggs and yeast were also included in the experiment, they say, with the goal of creating a "mini biosphere". Some other seeds that reportedly sprouted include rapeseed and potato seeds.
The full moon in January has other names as well, but Native Americans and medieval Europeans gave it the wolf moniker "after the howling of hungry wolves lamenting the midwinter paucity of food", according to National Geographic. Professor Liu Hanlong, head of the experiment, stated in the seed sprout announcement, "We have given consideration to future survival in space".
The future launches will culminate with a mission to test equipment for an worldwide moon research base, Wu Yanhua, deputy chief commander of China's Lunar Exploration Programme, said at a press briefing.
Such a base would likely rely on seeds being grown on the moon by astronauts, reducing the need for costly resupplies.
The China National Space Administration's lunar lander, seen on January 11.
The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 U.S. law was enacted.
China is energetically expanding its space program.
Chang'e 4 was launched atop a Long March 3B rocket in early December.
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 "dark" side of the Moon may soon have a variety of vegetation growing there as China has begun its 100-day experiment to grow plants on the lunar surface.
To the Australian Astronomical Association astronomer-at-large, Fred Watson, the development was "good news", reports the BBC.
Xinhua said the probe had taken about 170 pictures so far which have been sent back to Earth.