China to Experiment With Terrestrial Ecosystem on the Moon

Published by Adrien - Monday, February 19, 2024 - Other Languages: FR, DE, ES, PT

As part of its ambitious lunar projects, China plans to launch the Chang'e 8 mission, aimed at placing a small ecosystem on the Moon along with other payloads to test the use of lunar resources. This initiative is part of the preparations for building an international lunar base, scheduled for the 2030s, in collaboration with various Chinese partners.

Artist's impression of a lunar base.

The Chang'e 8 mission will focus on testing key technologies necessary to make this future base sustainable. Among the planned experiments, one of the most notable is the use of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), which will involve melting lunar soil using solar energy to then manufacture components, such as bricks, for construction by robots.

In addition, a terrestrial ecosystem experiment will be conducted, involving plants and microorganisms in a controlled and sealed environment. This experiment aims to explore the viability of using lunar soil resources biologically and their potential to support life-support technologies, such as food and oxygen production, essential for an inhabited lunar base.

Besides these two major experiments, Chang'e 8 will also carry a range of scientific instruments for observing Earth and the surrounding space. Among them, a radiometer based on the Moon and a multispectral imager for Earth observation will collect data on Earth's climate and its interaction with the solar wind. Other instruments, such as a low-frequency electromagnetic field detector and a soft X-ray telescope, will provide valuable data on the composition of the lunar regolith and the history of lunar impacts.

The Chang'e 8 mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than 2028, is part of a series of Chinese missions aimed at enhancing human and robotic presence on the Moon. Prior to this, the Chang'e 6 mission will attempt to bring back samples from the far side of the Moon, an achievement never realized before, and Chang'e 7 will deploy a set of exploration vehicles to study the lunar surface in more detail.

This series of missions highlights China's commitment to space exploration and its desire to play a leading role in the utilization of lunar resources and the development of sustainable technologies for human life in space.
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