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posted by martyb on Sunday March 14 2021, @05:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the ♫sowing-the-seeds-of-love♫ dept.

[Nearly 4 years ago, we covered flooding at the "doomsday" seed bank at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Fortunately, there was no harm to the seed samples stored there. For further background, consult the Wikipedia entry on the seed vault. --Ed]

Why We Need A ‘Moon Ark’ To Store Frozen Seeds, Sperm And Eggs From 6.7 Million Earth Species:

Species or planets[sic] could be wiped off the face of the Earth any minute—so we need a “Moon Ark” to safely store frozen eggs, sperm, seeds and other DNA matter from all 6.7 million Earth species.

That’s according to students and staff at the University of Arizona, who at the IEEE Aerospace Conference last weekend divulged details of an ambitious “modern global insurance policy” for our planet.

Their daring plan is to build a complex in the Moon’s lava tubes staffed by robots and fuelled by solar panels on the lunar surface.

[...] The incredible plan to build a lunar base that includes an underground ark goes something like this:

  • Ball-like SphereX robots—each weighing about 11lbs/5kg and able to fly and hop—to enter, explore and map the Moon’s recently discovered (in 2013) network of underground lava tubes, each about 328ft./100 meters in diameter.
  • Design, and then construct, underground ark in the lava tubes, with solar panels on the lunar surface and elevator shafts that access the facility.
  • Launch 250 rockets to the Moon, each taking 50 samples from each of 6.7 million species (it took about 40 to build the International Space Station).
  • Store the petri dishes of seeds in cryogenic preservation modules inside the lava tubes, which would shield the seeds from solar radiation, meteorites and temperature fluctuations.
  • The seeds would be kept at around -292ºF/180ºC, temperatures that would likely cold-weld together metal parts of the base. Cue “floating shelves” made from cryo-cooled superconductor materials that enable quantum levitation above a powerful magnet.
  • Staff the facility with robots that navigate through it above magnetic tracks. Robots that can operate under cryo-conditions don’t yet exist—though the proposers admit that new technologies will be needed to make the “Moon Ark” a reality.

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  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Sunday March 14 2021, @03:49PM (1 child)

    by Immerman (3985) on Sunday March 14 2021, @03:49PM (#1124045)

    For us.

    It's very unlikely that anything we do will wipe out humanity. Global nuclear war would barely be an inconvenience in the historical record. *Maybe* an extremely virulent and persistent bioweapon could do the job. Maybe. Even that would have a hard time getting to 99.9% - which would still leave 8 million+ people, thousands of times more than survived the last genetic bottleneck humanity went through.

    The ecosystem though - we're wiping that out at a prodigious rate. Estimates range as high as another species going extinct every 5 minutes. Humanity is already one of the worst extinction events the planet has ever seen, and we're working hard to dial our destruction up to 11 by pushing the global climate out of the unstable inter-glacial period it's currently in, triggering a second major extinction event before global biodiversity has a chance to recover from the current one. And if that happens it could take tens of thousands of years before the ecosystem recovers enough to support a lot of medium-large animals like humans again. It has happened before. Repeatedly.

    If it happens again, and we have vaults full of genetic diversity just waiting to reintroduced, and the will and wisdom to use it, we could shorten than recovery time to a few centuries.

    And of course seed vaults have great value even in less drastic cases. Existing vaults have already proven their value repeatedly.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14 2021, @06:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14 2021, @06:10PM (#1124113)
    So most humans and most other animals and plants are gone, and the few humans left are going to devote their lives and their next generations lives for tens of thousands of years waiting for the environment to heal enough to stop living in a shelter, with a population of at least half a million to have enough genetic diversity to survive, and not turn into some sort of death cult that believes the world has always been the way it is and that going outside even for basic research is heresy punishable by death.