For the first time ever, plants from Earth are growing on the moon. The China National Space Administration showed photos of cotton seeds sprouting into life. The administration said the cotton plants were among several plants that were "growing well". Other plants that are now growing on the moon are potatoes, rock cress and rapeseed. The plants are part of a project on China's space mission to the far side of the moon. The project is called a "moon surface micro-ecological circle". Project leader Liu Hanlong says the cotton seeds were the first to sprout. He said the plants were chosen because they were small, strong and could grow in the difficult conditions on the moon's surface.
Professor Hanlong said the project's aim was to understand more about how plants grow outside of Earth. The long-term aim is to develop plants that can grow on the moon or on planets like Mars. The professor said: "We have given consideration to future survival in space. Learning about these plants growing in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of a space base." The project also includes yeast and fruit flies. The professor hopes the six organisms in the project will make up a mini-ecosystem. The plants will produce oxygen and food for the fruit flies, and the yeast could manage the flies' waste and the dead plants to provide another food source.