Thursday – April 2, 2015
This afternoon we toured Biosphere 2. This engineering marvel was created to better understand how natural environments generate conditions appropriate for life. Biosphere 2 is a unique research facility used to study ecosystem processes under controlled conditions, but at large scales. Water, soil, air, sun, and life all interact to transfer energy and continually exchange nutrients and other materials. Better understanding of these complex interactions, along with other Biosphere 2 scientific endeavors, will improve the quality of life for all inhabitants of Earth’s original biosphere.
In 1984, Space Biospheres Ventures aquired land in Oracle, Arizona on which Biosphere 2 is built. Construction of the current facility began in 1986 to research and develop self-sustaining space-colonization technology. Two missions between, 1991 and 1994, saw crew members sealed inside the glass enclosure to study human survivability over a lengthy time period. After the second mission concluded, Decisions Investment Corporation acquired the property and the era of a closed-system human missions came to an end. Columbia University managed Biosphere 2 from 1996 – 2003. In 2007 CDO Ranching and Development bought Biosphere 2 and the University of Arizona assumed management of the facility. The facility was gifted to the University of Arizona in 2011.
Biosphere 2 Facts:
- Glass-enclosed facility is 3.14 acres.
- 7.2 million cubic feet enclosed under 6,500 windows.
- 91 feet tall at highest point and sealed from earth below by a 500-ton welded stainless-steel liner.
- Thousands of miles of wiring, pipes, and ductwork.
- Hundreds of scientific publications and countless new discoveries.
- 40 acre campus includes 300,000 square feet of administrative offices, classrooms, laboratories, conference facilities, and residential and student housing.
Life Inside Biosphere 2:
- The Upper Level Habitat was the living quarters during the sealed human missions of the early 1990s. It retains the Command Center, as well as offices, laboratories, classrooms, and interpretive exhibits.
- A Rainforest Habitat contains over 90 different plant species, some more than 60 feet tall.
- Water & Life Experiments comprise an unprecedented research program focused on the birth of soil and the interactions among water, rock, energy, and life using cutting-edge scientific technologies.
- Two white domes, nicknamed "Lungs" are variable air-volume control devices.
- The Energy Center Habitat provides power and temperature regulation.
- The Ocean Habitat attempts to simulate and sustain life within an artificially created ocean reef.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.