January 17, 2019 2:12 pm

China’s first plant on the moon withers and dies soon after sprouting

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The first plant to grow on the moon has already died due to extreme cold, according to Chinese scientists.

The cotton seedling, which sprouted on the far side of the moon this month, withered and died on Sunday when temperatures on the moon dropped as low as -170 C, Chinese newspaper Inkstone reported.

READ MORE: China grows seedling on the moon, a historic first for humans

The seeds were living in a special container on China’s Chang’e 4 probe, which became the first successful mission to the far side of the moon on Jan. 3.

Chinese scientists were hoping to grow food on the moon as an experiment for future colonists.

On Tuesday, scientists of the mission announced the cottonseed they had planted had successfully grown on Jan. 7. The experiment appeared to be the first time a plant has grown on the moon.

Several seedlings are shown in a test bed at Chongqing University in China on Jan. 7, 2019, 81 hours after they were first watered.

Chongqing University

But the good news over the plant’s germination was quickly over.

Xinhua, China’s state-owned press agency, announced the plants died on Sunday.

“The experiment has ended,” it said.

One of the lead designers of the experiment, Xie Gengxin, of Chongqing University, told the news outlet that the moon’s natural light was used to help the plants grow.

But the plant did not survive the first lunar night, he said.

WATCH: China’s historic mission to the far side of the moon


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The temperatures on the moon are extreme. During the day, the temperature can reach up to 120 C, and when the sun goes down, it can plunge to -173 C, according to NASA.

Xie told Inkstone that the cotton plant, along with the seeds of three other plants, yeast and fruit fly eggs, had been doomed because of a lack of temperature control.

“Because of the weight limit of the Chang’e launch, we were unable to bring a battery to the moon,” vice-president Liu Hanlong of Chongqing University, who directed the experiment, said in an email.

“Without temperature control, the plants and animals would not survive,” Liu told Inkstone.

Photo taken by the rover Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2) on Jan. 11, 2019, shows the lander of the Chang’e-4 probe.

Xinhua via ZUMA Wire

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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