The moon is a lifeless world once again.
The cotton plants that sprouted on the moon’s far side aboard China’s Chang’e 4 lander are dead, done in by the bitter cold of the lengthy lunar night, GBTimes reported today (Jan. 16).
These photosynthesizing pioneers were part of Chang’e 4’s biological experiment, which also included seeds of potato, rapeseed and Arabidopsis plants, as well as fruit-fly eggs and yeast. These organisms were encased in a 5.7-lb. (2.6 kilograms) canister, which touched town on the lunar far side with the Chang’e 4 lander-rover duo on the night of Jan. 2. [Photos from the Moon’s Far Side! China’s Chang’e 4 Lunar Landing in Pictures]
The experiment — which began just hours after the historic touchdown inside the far side’s 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater — aimed to assess how plants and animals grow and develop in the alien lunar environment. The moon’s surface features low gravity, high radiation levels and extreme temperature swings.