NEW YORK POST.- Scientists have begun to lay plans for repopulation, starting with a sperm bank — on the moon.
In what they’re calling a “modern global insurance policy,” mechanical engineers have proposed that humans establish a repository of reproductive cells — sperm and ova — from 6.7 million of Earth’s species, including humans.
And the proposed bank, or “ark,” would be beneath the moon’s surface.
As our planet faces natural disasters, drought, asteroids and the potential for nuclear war — to name a few troubles — scientists say that humans must set their sights on space travel to preserve life as we know it.
“Earth is naturally a volatile environment,” said study author Jekan Thanga, whose team at the University of Arizona submitted their report, “Lunar Pits and Lava Tubes for a Modern Ark,” at the annual Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Aerospace Conference on Saturday.
Due to the planet’s instability, he said, an Earth-based repository would leave specimens vulnerable. As such, Thanga proposed jumpstarting a planetary exodus of sorts by founding a human seed vault on the moon as soon as possible. It would store reproductive cells in recently discovered lunar “pits” from which scientists believe lava once flowed billions of years ago.
The so-called “ark,” according to Thanga’s presentation, would then cryogenically preserve various species in the event of global disaster. “We can still save them until the tech advances to then reintroduce these species — in other words, save them for another day,” he said.
The pits also are the perfect size for cell storage, according to Thanga. They go down 80 to 100 meters underground and “provide readymade shelter from the surface of the moon,” which endures “major temperature swings,” as well as threats from meteorites and radiation.
Thanga said that many plants and animals are “seriously endangered” and cited the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Toba 75,000 years ago as a reason for worry, saying it “caused a 1,000-year cooling period and, according to some, aligns with an estimated drop in human diversity.” He sees a current-day parallel “due to human activity and other factors that we fully don’t understand,” he said, adding that already “there’s been rapid losses over the last few decades.”
The “ark” concept is already being employed at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault — housing plant seeds, that is — on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle, where scientists say the massive stone structure can endure, undisturbed by humans or the elements. There are over 992,000 unique samples, with each containing an average of 500 seeds.
Thanga added that he was “surprised” by how “cost-effective” the mission could be, according to his “back-of-an-envelope” estimations. To transport 50 samples ofeach species (6.7 million target) would take 250 rocket launches. By comparison, 40 launches were required to build the International Space Station, which sits in low-Earth orbit — far closer than the moon.
“It’s not crazy big,” Thanga insisted. “We were a little bit surprised about that.”
Source: New York Post
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