Scientists are on a new path. Sending sperm and seed samples to the moon. An ark like complex would be an underground facility that is staffed by robots, powered by the sun (apparently solar power works on the sun?) and will be stocked with many loads of eggs, sperm, spores, and seeds from an estimated 6.7 million species on Earth — just in case we totally kill ourselves and everything around us.
The lead engineer on the project, Jekan Thanga, from the University of Arizona proposed the “Moon Ark” idea to a variety of experts, including NASA, at the IEEE Aerospace Conference earlier this month, where he described it in a 20-minute presentation.
His presentation shared that, the so-called ‘ark would cryogenically (by freezing) preserve various species in the event of a worldwide 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.
Scientists have proposed to establish a lunar gene bank that could house a repository of reproductive cells, sperm and egg samples from 6.7 million of Earth’s species, including humans.
The study was co-authored with 5 other scientists. These reproductive cells were discovered in what are known as ‘lunar pits’ from which scientists believe lava may have flowed billions of years ago. They think these pits were essentially storage pods for cells, as they are the perfect size. They were protected from extreme temperature changes, as well as radiation from space, meteorites etc.
During his presentation he shared that many plants and animals were ‘seriously endangered’ and cited the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Toba 75,000 years ago, which he thinks caused a 1,000-year cooling period. He connected the same to present-day parallel to ‘human activity and other factors that we fully don’t understand.’
The concept of creating gene banks is not new, it is already being employed at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault which is on the island of Spitsbergen, in the Arctic Sea. They houses plant seeds and more at the facility. This seed vault currently holds around 992,000 samples – each containing an average of 500 seeds. That’s a BIG seed bank.
The researchers do realize that they still need to investigate the idea a lot more before a full plan can be assembled and acted on.
However, one question still remains open:
Who will revive humanity when we cease to exist?