TUCSON, Ariz. — Pure underground caverns on the moon could possibly be used to retailer frozen samples of Earth’s species to be able to defend biodiversity within the occasion of world disaster, in line with a College of Arizona scientist and his college students.
Jekan Thanga, a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and 5 of his college students introduced a paper earlier this month on the idea throughout the worldwide IEEE Aerospace Convention, which was held just about this yr, the Arizona Every day Star reported.
Thanga stated the underground organic repository would function a backup copy of frozen seeds, spores, sperm and egg samples from most Earth species. The specimens could be saved protected contained in the caves carved by molten lava lots of of ft beneath the floor of the moon.
The caves, some giant sufficient to carry a 30-story constructing, could be reached by rocket from Earth in 4 to 5 days and supply an atmosphere primarily undisturbed for the previous three to four billion years, scientists stated.
College doctoral candidate Álvaro Díaz-Flores Caminero and undergraduate pupil Claire Pedersen had been the lead authors of the paper. They stated the thought got here from the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, however as a substitute of two of each animal the lunar ark would retailer 50 samples from every of the chosen species in a high-tech archive manned by robots and powered with photo voltaic panels. The group has been researching concepts amid world disaster for at the least seven years.
“There’s nothing like that on planet Earth. There’s nothing as safe,” Thanga stated, including that it serves as “an insurance coverage coverage” within the occasion of world disaster.
Thanga estimates that it might take as little as 5 years and 15 house launches to create the repository.
Thanga additionally stated it could be much like that of the Svalbard Seed Financial institution, an present repository in Norway that holds lots of of hundreds of plant samples. As an alternative, the one on the moon would maintain as many as 1 million completely different seed packets.
The group hopes to ship 6.7 million species to the moon, representing as much as 90% of all identified crops and animals, minus these that can’t be cryogenically preserved, he stated. It’s unclear what’s going to occur to the samples as soon as on the moon.
“We wish to put it aside for a time when we’ve the expertise to (re)deploy it,” he stated. “As a result of as soon as it’s misplaced it’s misplaced endlessly. There’s no approach of getting it again.”
Thus far, work on the thought has been funded by way of a grant by NASA. The group has introduced plans to launch extra particulars as they conduct extra analysis, together with how the samples would possibly react to long-term storage in microgravity.
Díaz-Flores Caminero, a doctoral pupil who co-wrote the primary paper on the idea, welcomes the problem. “Multidisciplinary tasks are arduous resulting from their complexity. However I feel the identical complexity is what makes them stunning,” he stated.