Researchers propose plan to create lunar biological repository for humans
A team of researchers is floating the idea of creating a biological repository on the Moon for millions of species on Earth — including humans.
The big picture: Whether the end comes from natural or human-made causes, our continued existence is far from certain. A biological ark could provide a backup plan for life on Earth — provided we can get over the weirdness of having a frozen sperm bank orbiting above our heads.
What's happening: Last weekend, University of Arizona researcher Jekan Thanga presented a plan at the IEEE Aerospace Conference to cryogenically store frozen seed, spore, sperm and egg cells from 6.7 million species in a solar-powered facility in lava tubes beneath the Moon's surface.
How it works: Such an archive could theoretically allow future generations —human or otherwise — to resurrect a species that had been lost to extinction.
- Similar archives already exist for seeds here on Earth, including the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in arctic Norway.
- But the first rule of archiving is that you keep your backup in a separate location, and any bank that exists on Earth is inherently vulnerable to an existential threat that would decimate life on this planet.
Context: Thanga's plan is just one of a number of different efforts to use space to preserve human heredity against the threat of total catastrophe.
- The Alliance to Rescue Civilization proposed storing DNA samples of life on the Moon, while the Arch Mission Foundation is encoding human knowledge on optical discs with plans to seed it around the solar system.
The bottom line: I'm all for backing up your data, but ask Ozymandias how these efforts tend to work out.