16 November 2019. Oracle, Arizona.
I accompanied our Boy Scout troop to explore Biosphere 2, a facility designed to replicate the needs of a domed living space off Earth.
It was designed to explore the web of interactions within life systems in a structure with different areas based on various biological biomes. In addition to the several biomes and living quarters for people, there was an agricultural area and work space to study the interactions between humans, farming, technology and the rest of nature as a new kind of laboratory for the study of the global ecology. Its mission was a two-year closure experiment with a crew of eight humans (“biospherians”). Long-term it was seen as a precursor to gain knowledge about the use of closed biospheres in space colonization. As an experimental ecological facility it allowed the study and manipulation of a mini biospheric system without harming Earth’s biosphere.
I wanted to share some photos I took of our tour. We got to explore portions of the facility unavailable to regular visitors. For privacy reasons, I won’t be posting any identifiable photos of the scouts.
Biosphere 2 was a successful failure in that – despite two separate “missions” ending early – the numerous challenges demonstrated that we have much to learn about running closed habitats.
Example: Our tour guide mentioned a particular issue. The trees – which generate oxygen for the facility – were mysteriously plagued with weak branches that broke and died. Turns out that trees need wind to “exercise” their limbs, and there is no wind in the closed habitat. Problem was solved by tying cords to the limbs, which residents would exercise the tree limbs manually.
See Also: Ozarks Scouting Report