Exciting news has recently come out of China, that they are aiming to be the first country to land a probe on the dark side of the Moon, later this year. According to The Xinhua new agency they are planning to land the Chang’e-4 probe, in an attempt to grow flowers on the Moon’s surface. The “mini-biosphere project”, which is being led by scientists at Chongqing University, is hoped to provide vital information which could one day lead to the colonization of the Moon. Liu Hanlong, chief director of the experiment, and vice president at the University was quoted as saying: “Our experiment might help accumulate knowledge for building a lunar base and long-term residence on the Moon.”
The probe will carry seeds of potato as well as Arabidopsis, which is a small flowering plant of the mustard family. They will be carried in cylindrical tins, made from a special aluminium alloy, containing water, nutrients, and potentially silkworm eggs.
“We have to keep the temperature in the ‘mini biosphere’ within a range from 1 degree to 30 degrees, and properly control the humidity and nutrition. We will use a tube to direct the natural light on the surface of Moon into the tin to make the plants grow,” said Xie Gengxin, chief designer of the experiment.
The intended landing site is the Von Karman Crater, situated in the Aitken basin, chosen for it’s potential for scientific research. The far side of the Moon is known for its special environment and complex geological history, but landing and roving will pose its problems.
It is hoped that the experiment will be filmed and transmitted back to us to watch its progress.