There is plant life on the dark side of the moon

The Chinese moon goddess has blessed us all, there is now life growing on the dark side of the moon.

Two weeks ago, on 3 January 2018, the Chang’e 4 lander – named after the Chinese moon goddess – touched down on the moon.

For its landing site, the Chinese chose the moon’s largest and oldest impact crater. It sounds like the start of a film.

I mean why pick the “largest and oldest” impact crater at the dark side of the moon for a landing site, if you’re not courting drama? Well, it turns out there is a very good reason for scientists choosing that particular place.

According to The Guardian:

Dating when the basin was created could help narrow down the window for a period of heavy bombardment of the moon and inner planets by asteroids left over from the formation of the solar system.

Why is this important? Because this bombardment took place around the same time life appeared on Earth.

Scientists have landed there to try work out whether this asteroid bombardment is what created the necessity conditions for life on Earth.

The idea that asteroids created life on Earth is an intriguing one. We tend to associate asteroid impacts with ending life, not starting it. Think Armageddon, Deep Impact, the death of our beloved dinosaurs.

Something that no one is suggesting, as far as I can see, but is an even more interesting idea is if that “heavy bombardment of asteroids” brought life with them.

If they didn’t just create the right conditions for life, but had the building blocks for life contained within them.

Perhaps the Chang’e 4 lander will find more than just craters on the dark side of the moon. Perhaps it will find the key to life itself…

Or perhaps not.

But it is creating a new class of moon-based plants and insects.

The Chang’e 4 did not go to the moon alone. It carried plant seeds and insect eggs on board.

From South China Morning Post:

Professor Xie Gengxin, the experiment’s chief designer, revealed that cotton, rapeseed, potato, arabidopsis – commonly known as rock cress – yeast and fruit flies were the six organisms chosen to go to the moon.

“We have given consideration to future survival in space. Learning about these plants’ growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base,” [Professor] Liu [Hanlong] said.

And on Tuesday, those seeds began sprouting.

Source: Chongqing University

This is the first life to ever be grown on the moon (as far as we know), and it was chosen for very specific reasons.

According to Liu, potatoes could be a main source of food for space explorers, cotton could be used to make clothes and rapeseed can be turned into oil.

What about the fruit flies? They, along with some yeast, are there to create a self-sustaining eco system.

According to The Guardian, the Chinese space agency plans to establish “a lunar research base one day, possibly using 3D-printing technology to build facilities.” It currently has four more lunar missions planned.

So it seems all the talk last year about going back to the moon “and this time to stay”, as Bezos said, has come to something.

Although, it wasn’t Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk who has laid the foundations for a space base, but the US’s enemy number one, China.

Perhaps that’s why this story hasn’t had as much publicity as you’d expect something of this magnitude to get.

Had it been a US billionaire or NASA bringing life to the dark side of the moon, it would have been front-page news for weeks.

As it is, it barely gets more than a few column inches. Still, that shouldn’t take away from just how monumental of an achievement this is.

And it certainly sets the stage for an exciting year of space exploration and discoveries.

Until next time,

Harry Hamburg
Editor, Exponential Investor

 

Category: Robotics

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