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China to establish simple ecosystem on Moon using plants, insects

(People's Daily Online)    13:53, June 13, 2017

In the 2015 sci-fi box office smash "The Martian," an astronaut played by Matt Damon survives four years on Mars by planting potatoes on the alien planet - a scenario which Chinese scientists say is likely to be realized in 2018, albeit on a different celestial body.

According to the Chongqing Morning Post, a container filled with seeds and insect eggs will be attached to Chang’e 4, China’s second lunar lander, and will be sent to the Moon in 2018. The container, which is made from special aluminium alloy, will demonstrate the growing process of plants and animals on the Moon. It will also provide valuable data and experience for the future establishment of eco-bases on other planets.

“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. Together, they can establish a simple ecosystem on the Moon,” Zhang Yuanxun, chief designer of the container, told the Chongqing Morning Post.

According to Zhang, temperature control and energy supply are the biggest challenges for the establishment of an ecosystem on the Moon. To protect its contents from extreme temperatures, the container will be equipped with a layer of insulation and light pipes to ensure the growth of the plants and insects inside. Specially designed batteries with high energy density will also be installed on the container to provide a consistent energy supply.

The container, which is designed by Chongqing University and 28 other universities in China, has over 100 components. It is 18 centimeters long and weighs 3 kilograms.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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