Space Events

Tiny Cotton Sprouts China Grew on the Moon

A handful of cotton seedlings poked themselves up from the dirt inside a small biosphere on China’s lunar lander, Chang’e-4.

Yes, the plants were stunted compared with the earthbound control plants. But they had just survived a space launch and difficult journey to the moon, and were growing in the low gravity and high radiation of extraterrestrial space. They were the first plants ever to grow on the lunar surface. None of the other species that made the trip with them showed any similar signs of life.

Now they’re dead. And it’s all the moon’s fault. As night fell on the region of the far side of the moon where Chang’e-4 sits, temperatures plunged in the 5.7-lbs. (2.6 kilograms) mini biosphere. Hanlong reportedly said that the temperature inside the chamber had fallen to minus 62 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 52 degrees Celsius), and could continue to plunge to minus 292 degrees F (minus 180 degrees C).

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