Go to the moon to raise silkworms and grow potatoes

  After the United States cultivated the first zinnia plant open in outer space on the NASA space station in 2016, Chinese potatoes and Arabidopsis seeds will be used as “passengers” of Chang’e 4, which will land on the surface of the moon in 2018. The first potato flower or Arabidopsis flower bloomed on the moon.
  There is no air pressure on the moon, and gravity is only 1/6 that of the earth. Its l-day time is equivalent to 14 days on the earth, followed by two weeks of night. There is no carbon, and carbon is an indispensable element for photosynthesis of plants. Finding ways to grow plants on the moon is more challenging than sending humans to the moon. For example, the lunar environment is vacuum. The temperature during the day can reach more than 100 degrees Celsius, but at night it drops to more than 100 degrees Celsius below zero. The addition of microgravity, strong solar radiation, high-energy particle impact, etc., bring extreme effects to the growth of animals and plants. Great difficulty.
  Based on the known knowledge of the growth of animals and plants, Chinese scientists have created a small space on the moon that can adapt to the growth of animals and plants and realize the ecological cycle-the “lunar micro-ecosphere”. The project, which lasted more than two years of testing, was finally completed in September 2017 and will be launched at the end of 2018.
  The “Lunar Micro Ecosphere” is a cylindrical “jar” made of special aluminum alloy material that simulates the living environment of animals and plants on the earth. It is 18 cm high, 16 cm in diameter, has a net volume of about 0.8 liters, and a total weight of 3 kilogram. Although the jar is not big, it has a lot of things inside. There are 40 parts in it, and it gathers the wisdom of multidisciplinary R&D teams in machinery, control, environment, biology, optics, and energy. The main day of this experiment is to observe the photosynthesis of plants on the moon, and to provide greater possibilities for the next scientific research activities.
  In order to keep the temperature in the “tank” constant, the researchers put on thermal clothing for the “lunar micro-ecosphere” and installed a new type of air conditioner developed based on the advantages of the application in building temperature control. Then, the researchers used solar cells to control the temperature to ensure the operation of some power-consuming devices such as micro-ecosystems and cameras.
  Because the resources in the “pot” are limited, the animals and plants also contain soil, nutrients, air and other elements needed for the growth of animals and plants, as well as miniature video cameras and cameras that record the growth of animals and plants, air conditioners that regulate temperature, and batteries that provide energy.
  With the guarantee of constant temperature, the temperature in the “jar” will be kept between -10°C and 30°C. Potatoes and Arabidopsis thaliana absorb natural light on the surface of the moon through light pipes for photosynthesis and release oxygen to feed the ecosystem. “Consumer”-silkworm eggs, and then the silkworm eggs emit carbon dioxide and household garbage to provide plant seeds, the cycle repeats. In this way, a small ecosystem has begun to take shape. It is expected that in three months, the first flower will bloom on the moon.
  In the two months from launch preparation to flight landing, in order to allow plants and animals to grow in designated time and space, researchers have conducted a lot of experiments to ensure that plants and animals sleep during the journey and are awakened when they reach the moon. According to Professor Xie Gengxin, the commander-in-chief of the project, the whole process of plant seed growth under low gravity and strong radiation conditions can be verified through the “lunar micro-ecosphere”.