China is aiming to have their own spud colony on the moon by 2018, according to the Chongquing Morning Post.
Their next lunar landing, a lander named Chang’e 4 will include a small ecosystem to see whether it is possible to grow potatoes from seeds on the surface of the moon. The ecosystem is small and cylindrical, 18 by 16 centimetres, pictured here on China Plus.
China is planning to send up silkworm eggs along with potato seeds. There are 28 scientists and researchers working on the design for the project. Chief designer, Zhang Yuanxun explains:
The eggs will hatch into silkworms, which can produce carbon dioxide, while the potatoes and seeds emit oxygen through photosynthesis, together, they can establish a simple ecosystem on the Moon.
The fluctuation of the moon’s temperature (-170°C and 100°C) will mean the ecosystem will have to be heavily insulated to keep the plants and insects at a reasonable temperature. Artificial lights powered by batteries will help regulate the ecosystem’s temperature.
China plans to live stream the plant's growth and development. This is a global first, no other space agency in the world has attempted this before. If successful, there may be potential for future lunar colonies.
March this year, a group of scientists proved that potatoes could be grown in Mars –like soil. Though the potatoes will not be grown in the lunar dirt, the experiment will provide information about plausible habitation for future colonists.