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China to Grow Potatoes on the Moon

Jun 15, 2017 08:39 AM EDT
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Chinese scientists are planning on making farming a norm in space. They are already building a method to enable astronauts to grow potatoes on the moon.

China plans to become the next space giant and one of their most imminent projects is to send humans to the moon. Along with it, is the development of farming systems to sustain astronauts.

Reports say that Chinese scientists developed a cylindrical canister that will serve as a mini ecosystem for potatoes to grow on the moon. The potatoes will be sealed inside the canisters along with silkworm larvae. The efforts are part of Chang'e-4 mission that will launch in 2018.

Growing Potatoes on the Moon

So how will it work? Scientists like to believe that the silkworm larvae will hatch inside the cylinder and will provide carbon dioxide for the mini ecosystem. Meanwhile, the potatoes sealed inside will emit oxygen through photosynthesis and these methods will allow the crop to grow inside the sealed environment.

The experiment will be tested on the moon so see if the silkworm larvae and potato will survive on the moon. The result of the experiment will be beneficial not only for the Chinese lunar mission but in future deeper space explorations like the journey to Mars.

"The container will send potatoes, arabidopsis seeds and silkworm eggs to the surface of the moon," Zhang Yuanxun, chief designer of the container, said in an interview.

Potato: The Famous Space Crop

Wittingly, the concept of growing potatoes in outer space was presented in Matt Damon's movie "The Martian." In the movie, Damon used a controlled environment combined with water and sunlight to grow potatoes on Mars. Although fiction, this proves that potatoes could be one of the easiest crops to grow out of the planet.

The technology that will allow men to grow potatoes on the moon is being developed by scientists from Chongqing University. The researchers made it clear though, that although the crop will be grown on the moon, they won't be planted in the lunar soil and will remain inside the sealed container until it is ready for consumption.

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