China’s space agency says cotton seeds planted on the far side of the Moon have sprouted.

It is the first time in human history that plants have been grown on the Moon.

It comes after the China National Space Administration (CNSA) Chang'e 4 probe successfully performed the first soft landing on the Moon's far side – also known as the ‘dark side’ - earlier this month.

The probe contains canisters of cotton seeds, potato seeds, rapeseed, yeast and fruit fly eggs – all part of experiments to see if the Moon could be used to support future space travellers.

The CNSA has now released images showing the cotton seeds sprouting. The image on the right was posted on the CNSA Twitter page.

“A cotton seed brought to the moon by China's Chang'e 4 probe has sprouted … marking the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the moon,” it tweeted.

Space agency officials claim rapeseed and potato seeds are now sprouting too.

A simultaneous control experiment is taking place on Earth to see whether plant growth differs on the Moon.