China aims to grow potatoes on Moon as a part of its second lunar mission Chang'e-4. Reports said the mission is scheduled to be launched in 2018; it includes a robotic lander and rover. Not only this, the Chinese scientists have also planned to send insects on Moon to see if potatoes can survive on the lunar surface or not.
The Straits Times reported that the potatoes will be sealed in a small cylinder that is referred to as a mini-ecosystem, along with silkworm larvae. This mini-ecosystem capsule will weigh three kgs, have a diameter of 16 cms and a length of 18 cms.
According to the scientists, the hatching of the silkworm eggs in the cylinder will help in generation of carbon in the mini-ecosystem. On the other hand, the potatoes will produce oxygen which would kick-start the give and take process between living the worms and the spuds.
However, one of the major challenges for the scientists will be to face the huge variations between the environments of Earth and Moon. For example, Moon's temperature can be as low as -170°C. As per the estimations of the researchers, this mini ecosystem might require a high amount of energy in order to continue functioning in the severe lunar atmosphere.
The researchers estimate that the mini-ecosystem might require a high amount of energy to continue functioning in the severe lunar atmosphere. They wish to live stream the entire process of growing potatoes on Moon.
"We hope it will raise awareness on environmental issues and generate interest in space exploration," Professor Xie Gengxin, the head designer of the project told The Strait Times.
Reports said that the scientists will find out the possibility of human colonisation on Earth's natural satellite with the help of this experiment.
This is not the first time when the scientists tried finding out whether fresh food can be grown in outer space. In March 2017, a group of Peru-based International Potato Center (CIP) researchers joined hands with NASA's Ames Research Center to find out if potatoes could be grown on Mars or not. Just like in the movie Martian, the cohort of researchers succeeded in growing spuds in the soil of the Atacama Desert, which contains soil that's similar to the one found on the Martian surface.
In October of 2016, NASA scientists had successfully grown lettuce on the ISS to produce fresh food for astronauts to help the long-term manned missions to the Red Planet in the future.