NASA beaten by China to grow first plants on the Moon

Super Wolf Blood Moon Coming Jan. 20, Epic Eclipse To Last Over 1 Hour

China is now the third country to establish a presence on the moon after the United States and Russian Federation.

Officials at the briefing declined to give specific figures on the costs of the space program.

China is to continue lunar exploration with its Chang'e-5 sample return in late 2019 and follow up with missions to the Moon's South Pole, namely Chang'e-6, 7 and 8, in the early 2020s.

During the 20-day journey from Earth to the far side of the moon, the cotton seeds and other plants were made dormant by "biological technology".

In one giant leap for plant-kind, cotton seeds have sprouted on the far side of the moon overseas China's Chang'e-4 probe. And because lunar eclipses can occur only during a full moon - and the first full moon in January is known as a "wolf moon" - many are calling this spectacular event a "Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse".

They only began growing once ground control centre sent a command to the probe to water the seeds.

Sprouts from cotton seeds have emerged from a lattice-like structure in a metal canister inside the lander, China said.

The organisms inside have a supply of air, water and nutrients to help them grow.

A team from Chongqing University in China developed a sealed biosphere habitat stocked with seeds, fruit fly eggs and yeast that it hoped would create a mini-ecosystem. The greatest challenge according to Chinese scientists is the constant weather changes on the moon.

Many have questioned whether the experiment is likely to contaminate the moon, however, experts believe this is unlikely also considering there are more than 100 bags of human waste on the Moon left behind by the Apollo astronauts.

They will need the ability to grow their own food, and this Moon experiment suggests they'll be able to with the right equipment. Cotton could be used for clothing, rapeseed for oil, and the potatoes a source of food. We could probably make some nice sweaters from moon-grown cotton.

Fred Watson, the Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer at large, described the development to the BBC as "good news".

An image of the Chinese biology experimental capsule now on the far side of the moon aboard the Chang'e 4 lander.

But it's also a supermoon, where the moon is at its closest point to Earth.

The China National Space Administration held a press conference on Monday in Beijing where the agency outlined its future plans.

Wu also revealed that China will send a probe to Mars around 2020.

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