The Lunar Ark: A Living Backup
Can the lunar ark act as a backup in case life is wiped off the earth?
By: Caroline Adana | April 8, 2021 | 448 Words
The earth is a dangerous place to live. From time to time, our planet is hit by meteors, causing catastrophes. Therefore, scientists are working on creating safe storage on the moon for life. Think of it as a kind of Noah’s Ark in space.
Around 11,000 years ago, the earth was hit by a giant meteor. There is evidence that this impact instantly melted billions of tons of ice and caused a worldwide flood. Thousands of ice age species were wiped out, including the wooly mammoth.
We know that one day, the earth will be hit again. It probably won’t happen tomorrow or next century, but the potential destruction is so great that it is worth making plans for survival if it happens.
In 2008, the Norwegian government opened the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on an island near the North Pole. The idea was to make a permanent storage and museum for seeds from around the world. Currently, it stores over one million seed samples and 87 gene banks from 66 countries.
It was built in the mountain under the ice to withstand catastrophes. However, recently, expensive repair works were needed because the building was not stable.
Ultimately, even Svalbard is not a safe storage place in case of a massive meteor strike. Therefore, the University of Arizona has proposed a similar haven on the moon.
The plan is not to store living animals, as in the story of Noah’s Ark in the Bible, but cryogenically frozen sperms and eggs from 6.7 million species. Dr. Jekan Thanga calls it a global insurance policy.
The moon has many advantages. It is geologically stable, meaning there are no earthquakes or volcano eruptions. It also has no atmosphere, so there are no storms, floods, or wildfires.
Dangerous radiation from space is a problem, but Thanga says the lunar ark can be built in one of the many underground tunnels on the moon. By placing the storage facility underground, the rocks above will shield from destructive radiation and maintain a constant low temperature.
Since the moon is so cold, little energy is needed to maintain the samples cryogenically frozen.
Although the project is ambitious, there has been a renewed interest in space in recent years. In 2019, President Donald Trump created the U.S. Space Force and declared America would return to the moon and go to Mars. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has made many successful private space launches and plans to be on the moon within this decade.
With this renewed interest and investment, there may also be a will to create the lunar ark. If so, the earth’s future is one step closer to being a little safer.