Sperm in space: Scientists propose building ‘ark’ on moon

Hooked on Science

SALTBURN BY THE SEA, – FEBRUARY 19: A Super snow moon is seen through cloudy skies over Saltburn on February 19, 2019 in Saltburn By The Sea, United Kingdom. The super moon at this time of year is traditionally called a Snow Moon or Hunger Moon because this month often sees the heaviest snowfalls and comes at the end of winter when the food is scarce. This will be the biggest and brightest of 2019 because its orbit is at its closest to earth, at around 356,800 km (221,700) miles. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – Scientists have proposed building a massive, high-tech “ark” on the moon as a “modern global insurance policy” against disaster.

The ark, envisioned by Jekan Thanga and a team of researchers from the University of Arizona, would store 6.7 million species of seeds, sperm, eggs and DNA.

Thanga presented his research Saturday at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Aerospace Conference.

Why do we need an ark on the moon? There are a plethora of reasons, global pandemic notwithstanding, that range from a super volcanic eruption to a global nuclear war to an asteroid impact.

An ark, just like Noah’s in the Bible, could store endangered species more cost-effectively than protecting them on earth or creating an artificial ecosystem, Thanga said.

The researcher proposed building the arks in lunar pits and lava tubes, which offer shelter from surface temperature swings, solar and cosmic radiation and micrometeorites.

In Thanga’s vision, the arks would be manned by robots and set at cryogenically freezing temperatures to preserve the specimens. Solar panels would serve as the energy source.

The concept of a global ark is hardly novel. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault — the so-called “doomsday vault” — on Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle currently houses 992,000 unique seed samples to protect against biodiversity loss.

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