Scientists at the University of Arizona have proposed an ark, called the “modern global insurance policy” for 6.7 million species on Earth, cryogenically preserved and hidden inside a series of caves and tunnels under the surface of the moon.
They said the vault could protect genetic materials in the event of “total annihilation of the Earth,” which would be triggered by a significant drop in biodiversity, but any move to build this bunker is a long way off.
“Earth is naturally a volatile environment,” said researcher Jekan Thanga, a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at the University of Arizona College of Engineering, in a statement.
“As humans, we had a narrow call about 75,000 years ago with the supervolcanic eruption of Toba, which caused a 1,000-year cooling period and, according to some, aligns with an estimated drop in human diversity. that human civilization has such a big footprint, if it collapsed, this could have a negative cascading effect on the rest of the planet. “
There are similar “doomsday rounds” on Earth: the Global Seed Vault, home to just under a million seed samples, is located on a remote island of Svalbard, an archipelago between Norway and the North Pole. .
In a paper presented earlier this month, the University of Arizona team thinks its concept could preserve life on Earth in the event of destruction of the planet we call home.
The researchers said the project depends on advances in cryo-robotic technology: to be cryopreserved, the seeds must be cooled to less than 292 Fahrenheit, while stem cells must be stored in less than 320 Fahrenheit. But the team says that at these temperatures, the metal parts of the base could freeze, jam or cold weld.
Scientists still do not understand how the lack of gravity can affect preserved seeds or how to communicate with a terrestrial base.
Experts discovered a network of about 200 lava tubes beneath the moon’s surface in 2013, which had formed when lava flows melted through soft rock to form underground tunnels billions of years ago. years.
Scientists think the tubes are 100 meters (328 feet) in diameter – It could provide the perfect refuge for the precious charge, protecting it from solar radiation, surface temperature changes and micrometeorites.
Powered by solar panels, the underground ark would be accessed via elevator shafts, which would lead to a facility that stored cryogenic preservation modules.
Scientists say it would take 250 rocket launches to carry about 50 samples of each of the 6.7 million species to the moon.
It is already planned that some construction will be done on the Moon for another project.