SCIENTISTS have hatched mankind’s ultimate insurance plan – involving the moon and LOTS of sperm.
Dubbed the “global insurance policy”, the project is planning on sending seeds, sperm and ovaries to the Moon.
A solar-powered ark would then cryogenically store the frozen samples from some 6.7 million species underground.
Taking inspiration from Noah’s Ark, experts fear that Earth may not be safe enough to ensure the survival of the human race – or any species.
Prof Jekan Thanga, of University of Arizona, who proposed the idea in a paper earlier this year, says the human race must safeguard to world against global catastrophes.
他说: “Earth is naturally a volatile environment.
“As humans, we had a close call about 75,000 years ago with the Toba supervolcanic eruption, which caused a 1,000-year cooling period and, according to some, aligns with an estimated drop in human diversity.
“Because human civilisation has such a large footprint, if it were to collapse, that could have a negative cascading effect on the rest of the planet.”
The scientist highlighted climate change, a global pandemic and nuclear war as possible causes of catastrophic disasters.
There is a similar project on Earth – the Svalbard Seedbank in Norway, dubbed the “doomsday vault” – which holds hundreds of thousands of seed samples.
But Thanga believes storing samples on our own planet is too risky.
The near-seven million samples would be sent to the moon in multiple payloads and then stored below the surface in vaults, CBS news reports.
The ark would be stored within a network of lava tubes – discovered in 2013 – formed after molten streams flowed beneath the lunar surface billions of years ago.
Experts believe these tubes could provide protection from solar radiation as well as meteors and other hazards on the surface.
And the moon’s harsh environment “makes it a great place to store samples that need to stay very cold and undisturbed for hundreds of years at a time,” the project team said.
Speaking on Room 104 今年早些时候, Thanga said: “Hopefully when the costs of space travel comes down, we can start making moves on this, but we really need to start sending samples to the moon within the next 30 years or so.”
Thanga believes transporting the millions of seeds – totalling 335m samples – would take around 250 rocket launches.
By comparison, the International Space Station took 40 launches to build.
The ark would involve solar panels on the lunar surface for electricity which would be used to power features such as elevator shafts down into the vaults.
The seeds would be cooled to -292 degrees Fahrenheit and the stem cells to -320 degrees Fahrenheit.
The team has also proposed using robots on magnetic tracks to move around the facility.
More research needs to be done on the impact of a lack of gravity on seeds, 报道说.
Álvaro Díaz-Flores Caminero, a University of Arizona student, 说: “What amazes me about projects like this is that they make me feel like we are getting closer to becoming a space civilisation, and to a not-very-distant future where humankind will have bases on the moon and Mars.
“Multidisciplinary projects are hard due to their complexity, but I think the same complexity is what makes them beautiful.”