A Chinese moon probe housing various kinds of plant seeds and biomaterial has alerted its keepers that its first seeds have begun to sprout. The cotton-seed sprouts are the first biological matter ever grown on the moon, and it prompts the question: Why cotton? And: Will the cotton be used to make a signature line of space clothes?
The moon lander, Chang’e 4, also contains potato, rapeseed, and rockcress seeds, as well as yeast and fruit fly eggs, all of which are part of a sealed mini biosphere experiment designed to test plant and animal respiration. (None of the other seeds have sprouted yet, and no word on what the fruit fly eggs are doing.)
As the BBC notes, while plants have been grown on the International Space Station (including zinnias, lettuce, and sunflowers), they’ve never before been grown on the moon, and this development means that “astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space.”
And, presumably, their own clothing material and makeup removal balls.
While some are apparently worried that this biosphere would “contaminate” the moon, the BBC also notes that “it’s worth reiterating that there are already nearly 100 bags of human waste on the Moon left behind by the Apollo astronauts.” Right on.
The next full moon, by the way, will be this coming Monday, January 21, and because it’ll also be a total lunar eclipse, the occurrence will be known as a Super Blood Wolf Moon. It remains to be seen what effect the SBWM will have on the cotton sprouts, but it will probably be cool and frightening.
Update: The sprouts have died.