Recently, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Administration Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the Political Working Department of China’s Central Military Commission and the Chinese Academy of Sciences praised organizations and individuals that had made outstanding contributions to Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission. Chongqing University, which participated as the development team of biological science experiment load of the lunar probe mission, was dubbed as the “Outstanding Contributing Organization to Chang’e-4 National Lunar Probe Mission”. Liu Hanlong, general director of the development of the biological science experiment load, and Xie Gengxin, chief designer, were dubbed as the “Outstanding Contributing Individual to Chang’e-4 National Lunar Probe Mission”.
On December 8, 2018, Chang’e-4 probe was launched successfully at Xichang Satellite Launch Center, carrying with it the high-profiled biological science experiment load developed by Chongqing University. Later, on January 3, 2019, with the biological science experiment load, it succeeded in the soft landing on the far side of the moon for the first time in human history, and the biological experiment was started on the moon by humans for the first time. With power and water supplied, the experiment device was turned on, and the data received from the ground showed that the seeds of the biological science experiment load germinated. This was the first gemma humans had ever succeeded to cultivate on the moon, where the environment is characterized by high vacuum, huge temperature difference and intense radiation. The achievements had drawn attention of state leaders and ministries and commissions, and were extensively covered by CNN, BBC, Time, Nature, Science, www.gov.cn, CCTV, People’s Daily, Science and Technology Daily, Lianhe Zaobao, Reference News and Global Times. General Director Liu Hanlong of the biological science experiment load project and the Chief Designer Xie Gengxin and other representatives of participants in Chang’e-4 mission were received amicably by President Xi Jinping and other state leaders at the Great Hall of the People.
Background information: The biological science experiment load project was an award-winning project in the “Solicitation for Creative Designs of Lunar Probe Load” cosponsored by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the Ministry of Education, China Association for Science and Technology, Central Committee of the Communist Young League and Chinese Academy of Sciences. After review by the general directors and chief designers of the lunar probe mission, it was included as the load for Chang’e-4 probe at the end of 2016. The team of the biological science experiment load project spent 3 years on tackling 6 technical challenges: 1. The biological static growing control technique; 2. The biological fixation technique in a complicated mechanical environment of the aerospace field; 3. Light guiding technique used in the natural condition on the moon surface; 4. Sealing technique in the high-vacuum and high-temperature-difference on the moon surface; 5. Autonomous temperature control technique used under the small-size, high-humidity and high-temperature-difference conditions; 6. Anti-fog imaging technique of camera in a high-temperature environment. The biological science experiment load eventually included the cotton seed, oilseed rape, potato, Arabidopsis, yeast and fruit bat fly. The total load weighed less than 3kg and formed a simple miniature biological system. It was designed to study the development and growth status of plants in an environment with low gravity, intense radiation and natural lighting condition of the moon, and provide basis and references for further research on building bases on the moon.
In participating in the mission, Chongqing University (Center of Space Exploration, Ministry of Education) “had the courage to explore the unknown and the team spirit to cooperate with others”. Chongqing University cooperated with a number of organizations for technical interfacing and communication with China Academy of Space Technology, Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, Shandong Aerospace Electronic Technology Institute, Chinese Academy of Science, Two-seven Base, and Beijing Aerospace Control Center. They worked together and tackled a number of technical challenges facing the project and contributed a lot to the successful completion of the experiment.