The Chinese space program recently landed a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, and has begun growing plants there. Neither of these feats have ever been accomplished by any other nation. Bolstered by their success, the Chinese space agency has announced plans to return sample materials from the Moon and Mars, and to construct a base on the Moon, to be constructed with a 3D printer. These missions have some people asking if China is now leading the way in space exploration, surpassing the United States and Russia. The U.S. has not sent an astronaut past low-Earth orbit since 1972.Read More Is China Leading the Exploration of Space?
The Chang-e 4 spacecraft touched down on the far side of the Moon on January 3rd, marking the first time the distant half of the lunar surface has been visited by a robotic explorer. The Chinese spacecraft arrived with a rover, the Yutu 2, which was successfully released to explore the alien landscape. Also on-board is a miniature biosphere, containing four species of plants, yeast, and fruit flies. Mission planners hope to use the system to grow flowers on the Moon, an experiment which could lead the way to growing food for the future human colonization of the Solar System.Read More Growing Flowers on the Lunar Surface? China Lands Chang-e 4 Rover on the Far Side of the Moon