The moon has been receiving a bit of attention as of late. We have a Japanese start-up that wants to place ads on the rock by 2020, Trump gave NASA the go-ahead to return to the moon and now it seems that China is following suit, albeit in a different way.
The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) aka the Chang’e Program has already sent two orbiters and one lander on the moon. However, China’s next Chang’e mission, the Chang’e 4, will involve bringing insects and plants to the moon. The purpose will reportedly be to test the effects of lunar gravity on living beings aside from humans as well as to study the local geology.
A Long March 5 rocket containing a relay orbiter, is slated to launch towards Earth’s natural satellite in June 2018. The relay will begin orbiting around the Earth-moon L2 Lagrange Point. A lander and rover containing various equipment to study the lunar surface will be launched six months later. In addition to the instruments, the lander will also carry an aluminum alloy container filled with seeds and insects.
Zhang Yuanxun, who is the chief designer of the container, described the contents of the lunar package as being a number of potatoes, Arabidopsis seeds, and silkworm eggs.
“The eggs will hatch into silkworms, which can produce carbon dioxide, while the potatoes and seeds emit oxygen through photosynthesis.” States Yuanxun “Together, they can establish a simple ecosystem on the moon.”
What’s more noteworthy is that this will be the first time a lander is sent to an unexplored area on the far side of the moon. The region in question is in the South Pole- Aitken Basin, located in the moon’s southern hemisphere.
Chang’e 4 mission will investigate whether terrestrial organisms can grow and thrive in a lunar environment. If the Chang’e 4 mission produces satisfying results, China will follow up with robotic missions and a potentially manned excursion in about 15 years.
Image Source: WikipediaCommons
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