Plants

How To Backup Life On Earth Ahead Of Any Doomsday Event

The Conversation

There are ten asteroids that the space organisation NASA pointed out that this month have been classified as potentially hazardous based on different sizes and their orbits in our Solar system.

NASA has now identified 693 near-Earth objects thanks to the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft thats been looking for potential threats to Earth since 2013.

The organisation doesnt specify what kind of peril these 10 asteroids pose. But Earth has been hit by objects in the past, with devastating effects. Scientists largely agree that it was an asteroid or comet impact that started the chain of events that wiped out the dinosaurs around 60 million years ago.

This animation appearances asteroids and comets observed by the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer( NEOWISE) mission.

Every year several previously unseen asteroids whizz past Earth, sometimes with only with a few days informing. This time two of these asteroids went closer to Earth, with one in May sailing past simply 15,000 km away. On cosmic scales, that was a very close shave.

But impacts from objects in space are just one of several ways that humanity and most of life on Earth could suddenly disappear.

We are already observing that extinctions are happening now at an unprecedented pace. In 2014 it was estimated that the extinction rate is now 1,000 times greater than before humans were on the Earth. The estimated number of extinctions scopes from 200 to 2,000 species per year.

From all of this very worrying data, it would not has become a extend to say that we are currently within a doomsday scenario. Of track, the working day is longer than 24 hours but may be instead in the order of a century or two.

So what can we do about these possibilities expectation of impending destiny? We can try to avoid some of the likely scenarios. We should act to tackle climate change and we can develop new asteroid-tracking systems and put in place a means to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

But security threats we face are so unpredictable that we need to have a backup programme. We need to plan for the time after our doomsday and think about how a post-apocalyptic Soil may regain and humanity will flourish again.

A backup design

Some efforts to backup life on our planet have already started. Since the 1970 s scientists around the world initiated to storage seeds of potentially jeopardized plants. There are now dozens of seed banks or tombs scattered around the world.

The most well known is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located on a remote Norwegian island about 1,300 km from the North pole. The locating was intentionally choosing to afford the project safe and secure long-term storage in cold and dry boulder vaults.

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A risk of thawing at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.Flickr/ Landbruks og matdepartementet, CC BY-ND
But there used to be reports earlier this year that the tomb had suffered issues such as water from the surrounding dissolve permafrost( caused by global warming) gaining entry to specific areas of the structure .

Less common are vaults for storing biological substance from swine. There are a handful of so-called frozen zoos around the world. They store embryos, eggs, sperm and more recently DNA of jeopardized animals. So far, sperm, eggs and embryo that have been iced for approximately 20 times have been shown to be viable.

All of the storage techniques that involve icing have the same trouble that the material is at risk of thawing out if the freeze methods miscarry. Storing frozen biological material for centuries or even millennia on Earth is not realistic.

Humans can now sequence a whole genome of a living creature and the cost has reduced to the point where it costs less than US $1,000 to sequence the human rights genome. This process effectively becomes the information from any organisms cells into data.

If future scientists can create living DNA from the genome data and can then create living organisms from that DNA, then having the data alone may be sufficient to backup the Earths living organisms.

Where to store the backups ?

But where should humanity store the backups? As French chairman Emmanuel Macron said recently, there is no design B because there is no planet B, echoing 2014 commentaries from Ban Ki-moon after they had been secretary general of the United Nations.

Backing up on Earth seems a high-risk strategy, equivalent to that given to having a computer backup on an external hard drive that sits right next to your computer.

So given that the same reasons for backing up Earths organisms is the likelihood of Earth itself suffering a catastrophe, it follows that our planet is not best available location for the backup. The partial flooding of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is showing that perfectly.

Perhaps the obvious region to locate the backups is in space.

Seeds have already been taken to room for short periods( six months) to test their viability back on World. These experiments so far ought to have motivated by the desire to eventually grow plants in space itself, on space station, or on Mars.

Space is a harsh environment for biological substance, where cells are exposed to potentially very high doses of radiation that will shattering DNA. Storage of seeds in low-pitched Earth orbit is desirable as Earths magnetic field provides some protection from room radioactivity. Storage outside of this area and in deep space would require other methods of radiation protection.

The other question is how you would get seeds and other biological material safely back to Earth after a world disaster. Now we get to the robotics that can be used, as autonomous re-entry of biological material from orbit is totally feasible.

The tricky duty is for our orbiting bio-backup to know when its cargo is required and where to send it to. Perhaps we need a world limited robot crew such as David in the recent Alien cinemas that would wake up the orbiter when it is needed.

Hello, Im David.

Alternatively, it could be staffed by a rotating crew of wardens similar to the International Space Station. These people could carry out other important scientific work too.

Other sites in space for storage of biological material or data include the Moon, and the moons of our solar systems gas planets asteroids or deep space itself on free piloting spacecraft. Such jobs have been proposed and groups around the world has already begun design such ventures.

The ConversationSo it seems that some people had now been accepted the fate of humanity version 1.0 and that it will end sometime in the relative near term. The motion to establish our backup ready for humanity version 2.0 has already begun.

Jonathan Roberts, Professor in Robotics, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original section.

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