Hailed world over, as the first plant to grow on the moon, the cotton seed sprout has unfortunately died due to freezing. China’s Chang’e 4 lander undertook the first of its kind biological experiment on the moon. They were successful to germinate a cotton bud on the moon and the world was cheering. But the experiment has ended because of the frigid temperatures on the moon. The temperatures dropped to a low of -170 degrees Celsius which the seedling could not sustain. China's Lunar Lander Chang'e 4 Grows First Plant on Moon (See Pictures).
Seeds of cotton, potato, rockseed, yeast and fruit fly eggs were sent on this mission insider a canister. But no other plants were able to germinate, except for the cotton seed. The scientists on China National Space Agency spacecraft wanted to develop a possibility of a mini biosphere, to see if there can be life on the part of the moon. This cotton seedling was provided with water, natural sunlight and they also maintained a temperature regulator. But at night the temperatures dropped too low for the plant to survive. The news of the plant dying came on the same day as the pictures of the plant were shared.
Xie Gengxin, chief designer of the experiment said, "Life in the canister would not survive the lunar night. We had no such experience before. And we could not simulate the lunar environment, such as microgravity and cosmic radiation, on Earth." But it was still a worthwhile experiment and they will figure out new ways to tackle the temperature for their future experiments. Trees on Mars? Vegetation in Antarctica Prompts Ideas of Growing Greens on The Red Planet.
It is unfortunate that the plant could not survive but it was indeed an experiment the world lauded at. It was a first of its kind to grow a plant on the earth's satellite, that was successful, although it was short-lived. The entire experiment lasted for 213 hours which is equal to nine days on the earth.