Freeze-dried human sperm could save mankind if shit really hits the fan. Scientists want to send human semen in gigantic tubes to the moon and bury them beneath the surface. The swimmers could be used later to repopulate the world should a zombie apocalypse, asteroid blast or nuclear war bust out.
Scientists from the University of Yamanashi in Japan just tested this theory. They managed to successfully breed baby mice from sperm that had been frozen in zero gravity while aboard the International Space Station, where radiation is 100 times stronger than on Earth. The experiment was a preliminary test, predicated on the notion that human sperm might behave similarly in the same conditions.
The sperm used in the experiment was stored on the ISS for nine months before it returned to earth. Upon arrival, researchers thawed the samples at room temperature and then used it to successfully inseminate a female mouse. The next of kin were born healthy and similar to “ground control” mice, though they did have minor differences in the genetic code, otherwise known as mutations. Damage to the sperm’s DNA did occur.
“If the DNA damage occurring during long-term preservation is found to have a significant effect on offspring, we will need to develop methods to protect sperm samples against space radiation, such as an ice shield,” researchers wrote, noting that the longer the sperm spends in space, the more severely damaged the DNA becomes.
Past research has showed that fish eggs can also be fertilized and develop normally during a 15-day orbital flight, meaning its protein too could become a valued resource if we end up living in space.
Despite the success of this mice experiment, researchers still aren’t sure whether human sperm could survive in space, so that’s why they want to bury it. For extra protection, they say our baby batter would have the best chance if it was preserved under the moon’s surface.
“Underground storage on the moon, such as in lava tubes, could be among the best places for prolonged or permanent sperm preservation because of their very low temperatures, protection from space radiation by thick bedrock layers, and complete isolation from any disasters on Earth,” researchers said.
The ISS is protected from radiation, whereas the moon isn’t. “Ovaries and testes are the most sensitive organs to both acute and chronic radiation exposure,” Joseph Tash, a NASA-supported physiologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center, says. He adds that the creation of “radiation-hardened” facilities similar to the ISS could protect the sperm, eggs and embryos from damage.
“Given the nine-month gestation for humans, the pregnant mother would also need to be protected by such a facility,” Tash adds. “So it presents very real habitat, medical, social, and psychological questions that need to be addressed as well.”
In related news, our Killer Tots From Outer Space screenplay is coming along quite nicely, thanks.