Sustaining The Biosphere Essay

Greenhouses at the site and Environmental Research Laboratory of the University of Arizona tested potential food cultivars and allowed the crew ("biospherians") in training to practice growing the full range of crops and raise domestic animals (chickens, goats, pigs).The agricultural area of Biosphere 2 was planted over a year before closure, and biospherians managed their farm, growing and processing food, so that there would be a supply of food grown inside when the full closure began.Biosphere 2 contained representative biomes: a 1,900 square meter rainforest, an 850 square meter ocean with a coral reef, a 450 square meter mangrove wetlands, a 1,300 square meter savannah grassland, a 1,400 square meter fog desert, a 2,500 square meter agricultural system, a human habitat, and a below-ground level technical infrastructure.

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It has in fact been extended for ten years, and is engaged in multi-year research projects including research into the water use of various Arizona grass species.

Prior to closure of Biosphere 2, initial tests were carried out in a smaller, 480 cubic meter onsite facility (the "Test Module"), looking at potable water generation, atmospheric sealing, atmospheric expansion and contraction, and the behavior of life systems inside a closed ecological system.

The crew were: medical doctor and researcher Roy Walford, Jane Poynter, Taber Mac Callum, Mark Nelson, Sally Silverstone, Abigail Alling (a late replacement for Silke Schneider), Mark Van Thillo and Linda Leigh.

The agricultural system produced 83% of the total diet, which included a wide variety of crops including bananas, papayas, sweet potatoes, beets, peanuts, lablab and cowpea beans, rice, and wheat.

The sealed nature of the structure allowed scientists to monitor the continually changing chemistry of the air, water and soil contained within.

Health of the human crew was monitored by a medical doctor inside and an outside medical team.The announcement ended immediate fears that the famous glass vivarium would be demolished.University officials said private gifts and grants enabled them to cover research and operating costs for three years with the possibility of extending that funding for 10 years..Three closures with one human inhabitant were carried out.This allowed advance modeling of Biosphere 2’s ability to maintain carbon dioxide at acceptable levels.At a size comparable to two and a half football fields, it remains the largest closed system ever created.The glass facility is elevated nearly 4,000 feet above sea level at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains.Biosphere 2 had two closure experiments, Missions 1 and 2.The first, with a crew of eight people, ran for two years 1991-93.During the second year, the crew produced over a ton more food, average caloric intake increased, and they regained some weight lost during the first year.They consumed the same low-calorie, nutrient-dense diet which Roy Walford had extensively studied in his research on extending lifespan through diet.


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