In the late 1980s the future was located in Oracle, Arizona. Biosphere 2 was originally constructed to be an artificial and fully enclosed ecosystem, where “mission” crew members would spend two years living in a fully sealed environment that contained five separate biomes: rain forest, grassland, ocean, savannah and desert. The experiment had an eye on space colonization and every aspect of the ecosystem was monitored by a large team of support staff from the outside. While many research goals were reached and the experiment delivered a tremendous amount of data (and drama), things didn’t work out as planned.
Columbia University took over management of the facility in 1995, and since 2007 the facility has been owned and operated by the University of Arizona. The research focus has shifted from closed systems to questions of climate change and global warming, the semi-closed environment being well-suited for fine tuning of individual variables in regard to air composition.
We toured Biosphere 2 this past week and participated in a citizen science project, and the detour and admission fee were worth the time we spent there. It was fascinating to see the fully intact ghost of a massive science experiment, and to see the facility being repurposed for science research following the experiment’s demise.
Our visit was well-timed with our arrival in Tucson where Ayo has had a number of speaking engagements, and as an added bonus… there was a free dump station in between Biosphere 2 and Tucson.
posted by yair