Paging Mark Watney! China to Send Potato Seeds to Moon

Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney in “The Martian.”

While KFC prepares to send a Zinger chicken sandwich into Outer Space AdjacentTM, China has much bigger ambitions for its Chang’e-4 lunar lander.

Research teams with Chongqing University have developed an 18 cm high, 3 kg aluminium alloy mini-ecosystem which will incubate the biological payloads.

“The container will send potatoes, arabidopsis seeds and silkworm eggs to the surface of the Moon. The eggs will hatch into silkworms, which can produce carbon dioxide, while the potatoes and seeds emit oxygen through photosynthesis,” Zhang Yuanxun, chief designer of the container, told the Chongqing Morning Post.

Temperature control and energy supply are the biggest challenges, People’s Daily quotes Zhang as saying.

The experiment will be livestreamed and is expected to contribute to research towards establishing future lunar habitats.

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China Space Program White Paper Outlines Lunar & Mars Missions

china_flagA white paper outlining China’s space policy for the next five years calls for a sample return mission to the moon, a landing on the far side of Earth’s closest neighbor, and the launch of an orbiter and lander to Mars by 2020.

China will also begin constructing a permanent space station and research and development work on a heavy-lift launcher, reusable boosters and satellite servicing systems.

The nation also wants to expand international cooperation in areas that include remote sensing, space applications, lunar and planetary exploration, and human spaceflight.

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