Chinese scientists to grow potatoes on the moon

Potatoes Image copyright AFP
Image caption Lunar-grown potatoes could form part of the diet for future human colonists

Chinese scientists will attempt to grow potatoes on the moon as part of a forthcoming lunar mission.

According to a report in the Chongqing Morning Post, the potatoes will be sealed inside a "mini ecosystem" as part the Chang'e-4 mission due to launch next year. They'll be sharing a small cylinder on the surface of the Earth's only natural satellite with silkworm larvae as part of a series of experiments, Professor Xie Gengxin of Chongqing University told the paper.

The goal is to see whether the insects and spuds will survive on the lunar surface, and the end result will yield important insights about the viability of a future human colony, China Radio International says.

Potatoes played a central part in the 2015 science fiction film The Martian, based on the book by Andy Weir, where Matt Damon plays an astronaut stranded on Mars, resorting to potato farming in order to survive.

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Reporting by Alistair Coleman, Kerry Allen

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