Let’s say something terrible happens to your computer, like it crashes or you drop it. All of those movies you bought online are toast, as is your address book and most of your work. It’s always a good idea to have a backup somewhere else, right?
Having a backup of your computer is handy, but having a backup of the entire progress of human civilization is even more practical. If a major catastrophic event like nuclear war or an asteroid strike wipes out most of the humans on the planet, it would be helpful for the survivors to have a record of all the accomplishments we’ve made in the past few thousands of years to help rebuild and repopulate the Earth.
The closest off-world place to store such a structure and ensure its safety would be the Moon. The construction of such a “doomsday ark” was presented last month by William Burrough and Jim Burke at a symposium on “Space Solutions to Earth’s Global Challenges” at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France.
There are already gene banks â€“ stores of plant seeds â€“ around the world, one of which is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which officially opened last month. But having a backup inside your computer doesn’t help if you drop it in a lake, so taking such an important operation off the Earth would make it that much more likely to survive any major catastrophes.
The ark would contain hard disks that store the genetic information of humans, plants and animals, as well as information on necessary or helpful processes for survival such as smelting metal, planting crops and building houses. Like the seed vaults, the ark could be expanded to include actual seeds, plants and frozen genetic material, which would aid in the re-population of these species given that a spacecraft could be launched to retrieve them.
After being constructed underneath the surface of the Moon to protect it from the radiation from the Sun and the extreme temperatures of the Moon’s surface, the vault could be set to automatically transmit the information to the Earth in case of disaster. Outposts containing a receiver and supplies necessary for survival would be installed across our planet to aid in rebuilding and the reception of information. The databank would transmit in a variety of different languages to ensure that the survivors could actually read the sent instructions.
To start, the ark would be tended by robots, but a future base on the Moon might allow it to be maintained and improved by human beings (an even better safeguard against humanity being wiped out).The scientists think it would be possible to place such an ark on the Moon before 2020. This basic archive would have a 30-year lifespan, and could be followed up with a more complete archive by the year 2035.