The seeds travelled more than 7,60,000 kilometers to the Moon last November. (Photo: CGTN)
China, which has been pushing for deep space exploration with its ambitious projects, has now harvested the first batch of rice cultivated from seeds that returned from space.
Beijing, in a bid to strengthen its food security, had approved harvesting of rice seeds that returned from the lunar voyage with the Chang'e-5 mission.
According to state television, scientists cultivated rice from 40 grams of seed that travelled with the lunar probe. They are now in the process of studying the harvest so as to identify the best variety of seeds that can be approved to be cultivated across the country.
The growing push for food security comes amid China's massive population and demand for consumables.
A TRIP ACROSS THE MOON
Dubbed "rice from heaven", the seeds travelled more than 7,60,000 kilometers to the Moon last November and returned to Earth on December 17 after 23 days of flight onboard China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe. Seedlings were then developed and planted at the National Engineering Research Center of Plant Space Breeding at South China Agricultural University (SCAU).
The growing push for food security comes amid China's massive population and demand for consumables. (Photo: CGTN)
During the trip, the seeds were exposed to violent sunspot activity apart from cosmic radiation and zero gravity. Chineses researchers believe that some of these seeds can mutate and produce higher yields and improved quality.
Guo Tao, deputy director at the research centre, told China Media Group that the best seeds would be bred in laboratories and later planted in fields. It is expected to offer new varieties of rice that will boost China's grain harvest and enhance the breeding industry's efficiency.
CULTIVATING SPACE CROPS
Experts have said that only high-yielding, high-quality varieties that prove to be resistant to diseases would be officially recognised as stable varieties. These would be then planted on a large scale and provided to thousands of households.
The seeds were exposed to violent sunspot activity apart from cosmic radiation and zero gravity. (Photo: CGTN)
"With long-term human stays at the space station, researchers are hoping to conduct experiments to test a self-recycling ecosystem in space, which will greatly cut costs and reduce the resources needed for future manned space flights. This will support more deep-space explorations, including the building of a lunar research base and manned missions to Mars," Global Times quoted Wang Ya'nan, a space analyst as saying.
China has been sending seeds in space since 1987, with more than 200 plant species making trips. These include varieties of tomatoes, cotton among others. Beijing has already earmarked 2.4 million hectares of land for the cultivation of space crops.