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.

Wikipedia: Biosphere 2

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.

In case you were wondering, “Biosphere 1” is Earth itself.

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.



Water and beach area. It’s 30 feet deep at the far end. Supposedly, one of the residents during the missions would hang from the ceiling structure and drop into the water during recreation time.
A variety of urchin
A stepped hydroponics system. At the top are koi fish. Their feces get washed down to the plants as nutrients.
Our view at lunch time

We went below the facility where the support systems ran their way through long corridors.


“During the day, the heat from the sun caused the air inside to expand and during the night it cooled and contracted. To avoid having to deal with the huge forces that maintaining a constant volume would create, the structure had large diaphragms kept in domes called “lungs” or variable volume structures.” -Wikipedia

A wonderful place to visit if your travels take you through Arizona. The “Lung” buildings mentioned above are in the two domes on the right.


This little guy would fit in the palm of your hand. Photo taken at our desert camp.

See Also: Ozarks Scouting Report