TUCSON, ARIZONA — Scientists are proposing that sperm and egg samples from 6.7 million of Earth's species should be sent to a gene vault built on the moon as a "modern, global insurance policy".
Such a lunar gene bank — which could also house seed and spore samples — is envisaged as being built under the moon's surface, in a hollow, cooled lava tube.
Specimens deposited in the vault would be kept refrigerated at cryogenic temperatures, with the facility's electrical power coming from solar panels on the moon's surface.
The gene bank would preserve Earth's genetic diversity in the event of a global catastrophe, such as might be caused by climate change, a supervolcano or an asteroid impact.
The fear is that such a catastrophe could destroy existing gene banks on Earth.
A new study into the possibility of creating such a vault on the moon is being led by mechanical engineer Jekan Thanga of the University of Arizona.
According to his initial calculations, transporting some 50 samples for each of the 6.7 million target species would require 250 rocket launches.