Species or planets could possibly be wiped off the face of the Earth any minute—so we want a “Moon Ark” to soundly retailer frozen eggs, sperm, seeds and different DNA matter from all 6.7 million Earth species.
That’s in keeping with college students and workers on the University of Arizona, who on the IEEE Aerospace Conference final weekend divulged particulars of an bold “modern global insurance policy” for our planet.
Their daring plan is to construct a fancy within the Moon’s lava tubes staffed by robots and fuelled by photo voltaic panels on the lunar floor.
Why do we want such a factor? Volcanoes, earthquakes, civil warfare, nuclear warfare, ice ages, speedy local weather change and, sure, unpredictable pandemics—that’s our planet. Calamitous occasions are by no means far-off and numerous species could possibly be worn out in a really quick time.
Of course, the human race does already has an insurance coverage coverage for these type of occasions within the form of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the so-called “doomsday vault” opened in 2008 contained in the Arctic Circle within the Svalbard archipelago, Norway.
It holds over 1,000,000 “back-ups” of duplicate seed samples to guard towards any unintentional lack of biodiversity.
But it’s not as protected as we want it to be.
Its “permafrost mountain” house can not be relied upon to remain frozen, flooding the entrance in 2017. Svalbard is experiencing rapidly rising temperatures. It’salso constructed at solely 430 ft./130 meters above sea degree.
However, the driving drive behind the lunar ark isn’t local weather change or sea-level rise per se, however the Toba supervolcanic eruption of 75,000 years ago.
The large eruption, the place Lake Toba is now in Sumatra, Indonesia, brought about a world volcanic winter lasting as much as a decade. “It also caused a 1,000-year cooling period and, according to some, aligns with an estimated drop in human diversity,” mentioned Jekan Thanga, a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering within the UArizona College of Engineering and the SpaceTREx Laboratory, who presented the paper. “Earth is naturally a volatile environment.”
Happily, we now have a Moon simply 238,855 miles/384,400 km from Earth the place nothing ever occurs. It’s empty and it’s chilly. It’s the proper house for a second “ark” to scale back the danger of biodiversity being misplaced if a catastrophic occasion had been to annihilate sure species on Earth.
The unimaginable plan to construct a lunar base that features an underground ark goes one thing like this:
- Ball-like SphereX robots—every weighing about 11lbs/5kg and capable of fly and hop—to enter, discover and map the Moon’s just lately found (in 2013) community of underground lava tubes, every about 328ft./100 meters in diameter.
- Design, after which assemble, underground ark within the lava tubes, with photo voltaic panels on the lunar floor and elevator shafts that entry the power.
- Launch 250 rockets to the Moon, every taking 50 samples from every of 6.7 million species (it took about 40 to construct the International Space Station).
- Store the petri dishes of seeds in cryogenic preservation modules contained in the lava tubes, which might protect the seeds from photo voltaic radiation, meteorites and temperature fluctuations.
- The seeds can be saved at round -292ºF/180ºC, temperatures that might seemingly cold-weld collectively steel components of the bottom. Cue “floating shelves” comprised of cryo-cooled superconductor supplies that allow quantum levitation above a powerful magnet.
- Staff the power with robots that navigate by way of it above magnetic tracks. Robots that may function below cryo-conditions don’t but exist—although the proposers admit that new applied sciences will likely be wanted to make the “Moon Ark” a actuality.
“Projects like this make me feel like we are getting closer to becoming a space civilization,” mentioned Álvaro Díaz-Flores Caminero, a UArizona doctoral pupil main the thermal evaluation for the challenge. “And to a not-very-distant future where humankind will have bases on the Moon and Mars.”
Wishing you clear skies and large eyes.