First Moon Seedling Dies
The seedling froze to death
Photo Chongqing University
The first seedling on the moon has died.
On board China’s Chang’e 4 lander, there was a mini-biosphere that had a cotton plant, some rapeseed, potato seeds and arabidopsis seeds, along with some fruit-fly eggs.
It was part of an experiment put together by Chongqing University to see how well the plants would do in their airtight mini-biosphere, which measured 2.6 kilograms. One thing the little biosphere did not include was indoor heating.
Thus, when the brave little cotton plant sprouted, it had no idea that the moon’s dark cold night and freezing temperatures awaited it.
During the moon’s daytime (which lasts about two weeks) temperatures can reach 100 degrees C. But then when night hits, they can rapidly plunge to minus 173 degrees C.
Even if the cotton plant was a winter-hearty species, it’s unlikely that it would’ve managed to survive the cold because it wouldn’t have had time to prepare. Earth plants usually get some warning from the changes in the light that winter is coming.
For what it’s worth, the seedling likely died a very quick death.