China’s new lunar rover faces challenges on moon’s far side

The super blood moon is not as scary as it looks

The super blood moon is not as scary as it looks

On Jan. 3, China became the first country to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon.

Cotton seeds have reportedly just sprouted in an experiment aboard China's Chang'e 4 moon lander.

Around the end of this year, China plans to launch Chang'e 5, which is to collect and bring back samples from the near side of the moon, the first time that has been done since 1976.

"From the images sent back from Chang'e 4, we can see the area surrounding the probe is dotted with craters of different sizes, and it's very hard for the rover to drive in the region", explained Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang'e 4 probe, according to Xinhua.

In a first for humankind, plants are growing on the surface of the moon, the South China Morning Post reports. But at a news conference this week, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of CNSA, said the two space agencies shared data related to the recent moon landing. China's self-contained miniature biosphere includes seeds for plants like cotton, potatoes, rapeseed, and yeast, along with fruit fly eggs. The ability to grow plants open new doors for a long term space mission and points out to the possibility of astronauts to potentially produce and consume their own food. Some have raised the question of whether the experiment risks "contaminating" the Moon, but scientists generally think this is of little concern. It touched down on the surface of the moon on 3rd January. The mission's architects say the experiments could help lay a foundation for one day establishing a lunar base.

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Chang'e 4 touched down on the far side of the moon on 3 January with equipment, and a rover meant to explore the moon's surface and to conduct the biological growth experiments.

The system started to water the seedlings after the probe landed and less than a week later a green shoot had already appeared. Tests on Earth show that viable, self-sustaining biospheres are exceptionally hard to build and maintain.

The far side of the Moon, which humans know much less about than the side that faces the Earth, is often mistakenly called the "dark" side, though it is not actually deprived of light.

Planted among the cotton seeds are other biological experiments, including rapeseed and potato seeds. In 2015, Expedition 44 astronauts grew - and then consumed - romaine lettuce on the International Space Station.

The moon's wide temperature fluctuations make it hard for plants to grow, so a special canister is being used for the experiment to keep the temperature stable.

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