HUMANITY should store vast amounts of sperm in gigantic tubes buried under the lunar surface to help us have babies after the apocalypse.
That's the astonishing suggestion in a serious piece of research about whether sperm can survive being stored in the freezing, gravity-free vacuum of space.
A team of scientists from the University of Yamanashi, Japan, successfully managed to breed baby mice using sperm which was frozen and dried in zero gravity conditions aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Their experiment suggests human sperm could also be freeze-dried and stored for emergencies, such as a nuclear apocalypse or cataclysmic natural disaster.
"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," the team wrote.
The team stored freeze-dried mouse sperm on the ISS for nine months, before returning it to Earth and using it to inseminate a female.
The "space pups" that were born were not identical to their parents and had minor differences in their genetic code.
Researchers believe mouse eggs can repair small amounts of damage to DNA once a sperm has fertilised it.
However, the damage is likely to become more severe over long periods of time.
"If sperm samples are to be preserved for longer periods in space, then it is likely that DNA damage will increase and exceed the limit of the [egg's] capacity for repair," the team wrote.
"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," they said.
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Sadly, we are some way off being able to freeze human sperm in gigantic tubes on the moon.
The ISS orbits within the Van Allen Belt, a magnetic field which deflects radioactive particles and protects life on Earth.
Sperm stored on the moon would not have this protection and would be exposed to the full ravages of the solar wind and all the other sources of dangerous radiation in space – unless it was buried very deep underground.
It's believed that some organisms can actually survive the freezing vacuum of space.
This had led to suggestions that life on Earth may have come from tiny beasties which travelled here from Mars aboard an asteroid.
Last year, it was claimed that humanity had a one in 500 chance of being wiped out in any given year of the 21st century.
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