Tech by VICE

Plants Are Growing on the Moon for the First Time

Cotton seeds brought to the far side of the Moon by China's Chang'e-4 lander have sprouted.

by Becky Ferreira
Jan 15 2019, 2:42pm

Cotton seeds on the Moon. Image: Chongqing University

Plants are growing on the Moon for the first time in human history.

Cotton seeds germinated in a small biosphere carried to the far side of the Moon by China’s lunar lander Chang’e-4, announced mission leads on Tuesday. The Chang’e-4 team released images of the sprouts, which began growing soon after the probe’s landing on January 3.

This Moon cotton is growing in soil that contains oilseed rape, potato, and arabidopsis seeds, but those have not visibly germinated yet. Fruit fly eggs were also put in the biosphere, which is protected by a sealed seven-pound canister, but they haven’t hatched (so far as we know as of Tuesday).

The achievement marks the first time that any biological matter has been grown on the Moon, though many plants, animals, and cultures have been studied on the International Space Station and previous orbital missions.

The mission already made history this month when it became the first lander ever to touch down on the far side of the Moon.