What do you think about Biosphere 2?
Do you think it's worrisome that the oxygen dropped during the biosphere 2 project?
For people who would read this and are not familiar with Biosphere 2, let me give a short bit of history.
It was a construction that was put together in the nineties. Eight people - 4 men and 4 women- entered the structure and lived secluded, without any contact with the outside world, for 2 years. They were to imitate a space colonization. The construction was (and still is) located in Oracle, Arizona.
The crew of eight had their share of problems. Among other things, they had to deal with numerous greenhouse ants and cockroaches. The first year, they were hungry more often than not, but in the second year they were able to grow more food, and put on some weight again.
Their biggest challenge ended up being the lack of oxygen. As time went on, the oxygen level inside the construction went down. I never really understood why that happened, but it could be a worrisome issue for future colonization in space.
There was also a second round in the biosphere experiment, but that one was associated with a good amount of drama, and definitely worth of having a topic on its own. I'll post about it later.
It was an incredible project that required great commitments of the participants. They were screened very well before being selected to participate.
I wouldn't call the experiment a success. As we know, biosphere 2 had major problems, especially with oxygen levels going down, and worrisome amounts of plants and animals dying off. To top it off, they also had problems with management, and with the participants arguing and such. Can't say I blame them, living 2 years in a confined space.
The biosphere 2 project was only done twice, and then the construction was abandoned. Why? The whole idea sounded fantastic, and then they stopped the project.
One thing that bugs me about biosphere 2 is that Jane Poynter left the construction for a few hours to get some medical attention. Maybe I'm just too strict, but they had all agreed on staying there, they did the project voluntary, they were not forced. Nobody should have been allowed to leave, no matter what. They knew the risks. (Except maybe in a life and death situation).
I would love to visit that structure some day. I'd have to look it up, not sure if it is accessible to the public or not, but I'd love to go there some day and check it out.
The fact that they ran low on energy doesn't worry me as much as the fact that the construction was only used twice for its originally intended purpose. That almost feels like giving up.
The crew of 8 had severe problems, they eventually split up in 2 groups of 4, and each group deeply hated the other group. This is where the experiment revealed that the human race has a lot of soul-searching to do, and this is also where we should worry. Those people were there for 2 years. What if they would have had to stay there for 10 years, or forever? I could see war break loose between the two groups and that's the last thing we need.
Did you know that just two months into the project, the crew members opened an emergency food supply that was grown outside of the construction?
You wouldn't have that on Mars, or in any space settlement.
I wish they would have continued the projects, because now we can consider them failed, and I don't see how people can start space colonies without having gone through extensive projects such as biosphere 2. Given, there have been more, but not enough. Just my humble opinion..
The positive outcome of biosphere 2 is that we have learned a few things from it.
One thing for example is that we can be healthier when we eat less. Their food intake was less than they would have eaten had they been in normal circumstances, and yet medical tests revealed that they were all in good health, low cholesterol, and no high blood pressure.
We learned that an enclosed ecosystem can get undermined in a hurry by unforseen events.
We also learned a lot about human behavior and how they react in enclosed quarters. Don't be mistaken here, biosphere 2 isn't the only place where people live in enclosed areas, think ISS, submarines, etc... but nobody had ever been in an enclosed space for so long.
I know that the media considered biosphere 2 a failure, but all things considered, I wouldn't call it a failure at all. We did learn, and after all, that was the goal I'd say.
And hey the building didn't go to waste 🙂 Now everyone can visit it and learn something 🙂