Biosphere 2 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Biosphere 2 is a manmade closed ecological system in Oracle, Arizona built by Edward P. Bass, Space Biosphere Ventures and others. Constructed between 1987 and 1989, It was used to test if and how people could live and study in a closed biosphere, while carrying out scientific experiments. It explored the possible use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and also allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth's. The name comes from the idea that it is modelled on "Biosphere 1" - Earth. History Missions The project conducted two sealed missions; the first from September 26, 1991 to September 26, 1993 and the second for six months in 1994. During the first mission, oxygen levels began falling at a steady pace of 0.5% per month. This continued to the point where the atmosphere inside resembled that of a community at an elevation of over 4,000 feet. Eventually, oxygen levels fell to dangerously low levels, and pure oxygen was pumped in from the outside. Many suspected the drop in oxygen was due to microbes in the soil. The agricultural, savanna and rain forest sections had all been infused with microbes in order to encourage plant growth. It was now felt that these microbes were consuming too much oxygen. A problem with this theory was that microbes breathing that much oxygen would also be creating a massive amount of carbon dioxide. Yet this jump in CO2 was unaccounted for in the atmosphere readings. Further investigation revealed that the concrete at the base of the facility had been absorbing the carbon dioxide as it cured. This effect absorbed a large portion of the carbon dioxide being produced by the microbes which in turn had been depleting the facility's oxygen supply. Because oxygen and other supplies were provided the project lost some credibility. Columbia University In 1995 the Biosphere 2 owners transferred management to Columbia University. Since 1996, over 1200 graduate students have spent a year in the Biosphere 2 Center (as of 2003). The site has its own hotel and conference center. Columbia has since divested itself of all Biosphere-related responsibilities. For sale As of January 10, 2005 Decisions Investments Corporation, owners of Biosphere 2, have announced that the Biosphere 2 campus is for sale. They would prefer if a research use was found for the complex, but are looking for buyers with different intentions, such as universities, churches, resorts, spas, etc. Science and engineering Biosphere 2 from the inside. Seen here are the Savanna (foreground) and Ocean (background) sections. The Coastal Fog Desert section of Biosphere 2. August 2005. The scientific method is difficult to apply due to the complexity of the biosphere and the absence of a control. Like Project Apollo, Biosphere 2 is an achievement of engineering rather than science. The above-ground physical structure of Biosphere 2 was made of steel tubing and high-performance glass and steel frames. The frame and glazing materials were designed and made to specification by a firm run by a one-time student of Buckminster Fuller, Peter Pearce (Peter Pearce & Associates). Difficulty of creating successful artificial biospheres An interesting consequence of the experiment is that it showed the difficulty of copying the functions of the natural capital of the evolved Earth biosphere with infrastructural capital constructed by humans with present technology. Despite expenditure of over $150 million, this attempt at a new biosphere did not sustain eight humans for a limited time, while the original sustains billions of humans, besides other organisms. Value of Earth's biosphere Some economists have used the price of the Biosphere 2 project as an input to value of life, calculations, and attempts to calculate the total value of all natural capital on Earth (see also: value of Earth). According to them, given that it does at least as good a job at sustaining humans as Biosphere 2, it should be worth at least as much per resident. This leads to a rather large, but finite, price of Earth itself. Other closed ecological systems ? BIOS-1 ? BIOS-2 ? BIOS-3, northern Siberia, 1972 ? Biosphere 3 (proposed) ? Biosphere J, Japan, (proposed) See also: biological engineering, closed ecological systems, life support system See also ? Bio-Dome, Pauly Shore film parody of Biosphere 2 ? Montreal Biodome External links ? Biosphere 2 official site ? New Scientist: The Last Word: Biosphere "Hypothetically (because otherwise my mum would get mad), if I were to put my brother in a perfectly sealed room, how much plant life would I need in that room in order to maintain a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide such that both my brother and my beloved plants continue to live?" ? DIY Science - Ecosphere Interactive educational website by the BBC and the Open University. ? Photos of Biosphere 2 - Terra Galleria ? The oxygen depletion problem Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2" Categories: Columbia University | Biology experiments Kim Hayes Biosphere 2
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