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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14 2021, @06:00PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14 2021, @06:00PM (#1124106)
    Issues with Earth gravity? It’s earth gravity that keeps an atmosphere around our planet.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Socrastotle on Sunday March 14 2021, @07:02PM

    by Socrastotle (13446) on Sunday March 14 2021, @07:02PM (#1124138) Journal

    Nah, more like our magnetic field. Reduce the gravity and the equilibrium altitude simply increases. That would decrease the atmospheric pressure, but the real problem is leakage. We're "leaking" about 90 tons of atmosphere out into space per day, which means our atmosphere is here to stay for a good long while. Anyhow, the exact mechanisms for the leaking are not entirely understood but one known cause is when energetic particles bump into our atmosphere, they tend to effectively (not quite how it works - but effect is the same) kick some particles out of our atmosphere and out into space. So for instance during significant solar weather (lots of particles from the sun), the rate of leakage on Earth increase by a factor of about 3. One of the main sources of protection we have against this is our magnetosphere which helps to divert most charged particles away from our atmosphere.

    Atmospheric leak is one leading hypothesis [nasa.gov] for what happened to Mars. It is generally believed that Mars was once an oceanic planet. But as the atmosphere bleeds out into space, atmospheric pressure decreases. This in turn makes liquid water impossible - it would exist either as a solid or a vapor only. Think about CO2 here on Earth. When you buy a chunk of dry ice (which is 100% CO2 if you were not aware) it's a solid, and it transitions directly, sublimates, to a vapor because we have insufficient atmospheric pressure for it to naturally exist in its liquid form. Same thing happens to water as you reduce the atmospheric pressure.