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Terraform Earth

Asteroid with seeds of life on collision course with Earth
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Events beyond human control, like massive volcanic eruptions or comet strikes, have nearly wiped out life on earth in the past. A nearby supernova could be bad, too. Such events are rare, so we probably have plenty of time to prepare. One backup plan to ensure the recovery of life on earth would be to put some freeze-dried microbes and maybe plant seeds inside an asteroid (small enough to cause minimal damage, but large enough to protect contents) and set it on a collision path with earth, with arrival far in the future. Obviously this would be a lower priority than efforts to ensure survival of humans and civilization, but seeds can survive conditions we can't.
Ford, Mar 25 2008


       the supernova wipes out earth, but not your asteroid? Also, if all the humans are dead, who cares if earth is a dustball?   

       Also, why not bury it 2 miles down? It will be easier and keep better.
GutPunchLullabies, Mar 25 2008

       ...but who will water the seeds?
xandram, Mar 25 2008

       Send out a few thousand of these things, and aim them all over the place. Panspermia!   

       Bacteria are durable. I suspect that an event harsh enough to permanently and completely sterilize the earth would probably not be reversible to the point that life would be possible at some subsequent time.
bungston, Mar 25 2008

       Thanks for the thoughtful comments. If something is buried well enough to survive, how does it get to the surface? Bacteria can crawl, but they would need an energy source reaching all the way to the surface that wouldn't require human intervention to maintain. Hmmm... maybe bury seeds where 1000 years of erosion will uncover, but that assumes global disaster doesn't change course of river. An obvious assumption is that conditions will become favorable for life again, including rain to water seeds. I'm also assuming disaster severe enough to collapse even reinforced caves, otherwise we have lots of options, including survival of humans.
Ford, Mar 25 2008

       We may not be so lucky, but Life itself will survive asteroid impacts indefinitely - we wouldn't be here today if it didn't. So, not really necessary.   

       And what are you going to say to the advanced race of superintelligent cockroaches whose civilization you wipe out with your asteroid?
DrCurry, Mar 26 2008

       That's why I said "small enough to cause minimum damage."   

       Assuming bacteria are extinction-proof, what about other ideas for restoring multicellular life to a planet that has been wiped clean but is again habitable? Bury floating seed packets (or coconuts) in a glacier where they'll be protected but released into the ocean in a thousand years or so? (Or however long the seeds can survive when kept cold.)
Ford, Mar 26 2008


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