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Scientists Want to Store a 'Lunar Ark' on the Moon

It would hold frozen samples of sperm, eggs in case disaster strikes on Earth
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2021 9:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – It's like an emergency kit, but in this case the label would read, "open in case of Armageddon." Scientists are floating the idea of storing samples of sperm, eggs, spores, and seeds from pretty much every life form on Earth up on the moon, reports CBS News. That way, if life on Earth is wiped out by pandemic, asteroid strike, or any other calamity, we'd have a way of starting over. Think of it as a space-age Noah's Ark, which is why the team at the University of Arizona calls their plan the Lunar Ark, per a news release. The logistics, as presented during the IEEE Aerospace Conference, are daunting. The idea is to collect 335 million reproductive cells from 6.7 million species on the planet and transport them to the moon, where the cryogenically frozen samples would be stored in underground lava tubes.

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"I like to use the data analogy," lead researcher Jekan Thanga tells Live Science. "It's like copying your photos and documents from your computer onto a separate hard drive, so you have a backup if anything goes wrong." Solar panels would provide power for the storage locker, which would have to be tended by robots because of the ultra-cold temperatures involved. It would likely take an estimated 250 rocket flights just to transport the reproductive cells, and Popular Mechanics puts this in the context of the 40 flights required to build the International Space Station. The price would be staggering, likely in the hundreds of billions of dollars, though Thanga sees this as an international effort and notes that the cost of flights will come down as private companies such as SpaceX get involved. Thanga thinks the plan is feasible over 30 years. (Read more moon stories.)

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