Scientists want to build a modern-day Noah’s Ark that could save life on Earth in the event of natural disasters. The gigantic treasure trove is to be built on the moon.
A team of scientists at the University of Arizona has come up with a bold proposal to preserve life on Earth in the event of a global crisis. They outline what it would take to create a repository of life – not just humanity, but also animal and plant life – away from the threats our planet faces, whether natural or man-made. The proposal may sound like something out of a science fiction story, but it is surprisingly realistic.
Presenting their idea at the IEEE Aerospace Conference, the researchers see the bank as a “modern global insurance policy” for disasters that may befall Earth’s civilization. Hence the “Moon Ark,” where cryogenically frozen samples of semen, eggs, spores and seeds of 6.7 million species can be safely preserved on the Silver Globe.
The Moon may not be an ideal location from the standpoint of ease of access, but it is far enough away to avoid a “doomsday” scenario that could have befallen our planet. In particular, the lunar lava caves and valleys could be the perfect place to build a modern-day Noah’s Ark, similar in concept to the Global Seed Bank on Svalbard, but in a location that is insensitive to climate crisis.
Beneath the Moon’s surface are hundreds of lava caves. Thanks to the rocks above, they are shielded from radiation and micrometeorites, and the extreme cold would be an asset for storing samples, just like the Arctic Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago where the Global Seed Bank is located. It was built to safely store seeds of edible plants from around the world.
Powering the Moon Ark is also within current capabilities. Assuming 30 percent efficiency, 191 square meters of solar panels would be enough to power the facility. Construction and delivery of materials (both construction and biological) would be difficult, but not impossible.
Professor Jaken Thanga, who presented the Moon Ark concept, explained that the facility would be filled with samples in about 250 trips. By comparison, it took 40 flights to build the International Space Station, which is obviously much closer.
There are other obstacles necessary to overcome. The cold and near-vacuum conditions of the lunar lava caves can affect the metals used in the facility in a number of ways. They can freeze, jam, or even fuse together. However, a team of scientists has an ingenious solution: using superconductors.
Superconductors exhibit amazing properties, such as allowing electricity to flow without resistance. They can also hold objects in place through a phenomenon called quantum levitation. Samples from Earth could levitate in place along superconducting tracks, and robots could move along other tracks to monitor them.
While this ambitious project may not yet be ready for deployment, the team has also proposed ways to explore the Moon’s lava caves with jumping and flying robots called SphereX. These lava caves could not only house specimens of Earth’s species, but could also be an ideal place for a permanent human presence on the Moon.