It may have been one giant leap for plantkind, but celebrations were short-lived after the cotton seeds planted on the Moon have already frozen to death.
The tragic loss to the plant world comes a day after images were released of the germinated plants sprouting aboard the Lander.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) were trying to accomplish a feat never done before; growing a plant on the lunar surface.
All was going well for the cotton seeds that were aboard the Chang’e 4 lunar lander, when some of the seeds defied the odds and sprouted. But as the weather drops to a slightly chilly -150 degrees Celsius during nights on the Moon, the temperatures had fallen far too low for the plants to survive.
The seeds were being carried in an aluminium container, designed by Chinese universities to provide water, air and maintain a healthy temperature for the plants to grow.
GB Times reports Liu Hanlong, head of the experiment at Chongqing University, said at a Chongqing government press conference on Tuesday that the temperature inside the 1-litre-capacity canister had reached -52 degrees Celsius and the experiment had ended.
If the mission had proven to be a success, it could’ve been classed as a significant step towards long-term space exploration in the future. Having the option for astronauts to stock up on food and supplies on the Moon would’ve meant they wouldn’t have to return to Earth for additional supplies.
The Chang’e 4 probe landed on the far-side of the moon on January 3, with soil, cotton seeds, rock cress, rapeseed and potato seeds, yeast and fruit fly eggs all carried by the lander. The aim of the mission being carried out to analyse the geology of the surface. Despite the plants not surviving, the mission has not been classed as a complete waste of time.
Following its successful mission to the far side of the moon, China has now started planning to send a spacecraft to Mars next year. Any more information gathered on this mission could also help to better understand how we can make the Moon a half-way house between Earth and the red planet.