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Current Position:Home » News » Food Technology » Topic

China wants to grow potatoes on the moon

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-06-21  Views: 20
Core Tip: One of the aims of the Chinese space program is to colonize the moon. To achieve this, it is key to determine if it is possible to produce food on its surface.
One of the aims of the Chinese space program is to colonize the moon. To achieve this, it is key to determine if it is possible to produce food on its surface.

It is not science fiction, or part of the script for the film 'The Martian' where Matt Damon, who is trapped on Mars, manages to grow potatoes and survive. As part of the Chang'e-4 mission scheduled for next year, China will send to the Moon a small cylinder with potatoes.

That miniature object will contain a small ecosystem that will allow the tubers to develop. The cylinder will also carry silkworm eggs to determine if conditions on the lunar surface are benign enough to allow these organisms to survive.

The experiment was developed by the University of Chongqing and it is the first stage of an even larger project that seeks to establish colonies on the moon.

The cylinders aim at simulating the conditions of the terrestrial surface where the cultures are developed easily, according to the professor in charge of the lunar experiment, Xie Gengxin.

Apart from growing potatoes and hatching silkworm eggs, an important aspect of the experiment is that the potato plants will photosynthesize and thereby produce oxygen. The silkworms, in turn, are a rich source of carbon dioxide production.

Researchers decided to work with potatoes as they are one of the easiest plants to grow, and can develop in different temperatures and climatic conditions.

The Chinese space program is planning to send its first man to the Moon in 2036; one of its priorities since President Xi Jinping came to power. However, Chinas' space budget is only one-tenth that of the United States Space Agency (NASA).
 
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