Biosphere 2

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Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 is an Earth systems science research facility. It has been owned by the University of Arizona since 2011. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. It is a 3.14-acre (1.27-hectare) structure originally built to be an artificial, materially closed ecological system in Oracle, Arizona, US by Space Biosphere Ventures, a joint venture whose principal officers were John P. Allen, inventor and Executive Director, and Margret Augustine, CEO. Constructed between 1987 and 1991, it explored the web of interactions within life systems in a structure with five areas based on biomes, and an agricultural area and human living and working space to study the interactions between humans, farming, and technology with the rest of nature. It also explored the use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth's. The name comes from Earth's biosphere, "Biosphere 1". Project funding came primarily from the joint venture's financial partner, Ed Bass's Decisions Investment, costing US$200 million from 1985 to 2007, including land, support research greenhouses, test module, and staff facilities. Biosphere 2 sits on a sprawling 40-acre (16-hectare) science campus that is open to the public. It remains the largest closed system created.[2] The glass facility is elevated 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above sea level at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, half an hour outside Tucson. 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 infrastructure. Heating and cooling water circulated through independent piping systems and passive solar input through the glass space frame panels covering most of the facility, and electrical power was supplied into Biosphere 2 from an onsite natural gas energy center. Biosphere 2 had two closure experiments, Missions 1 and 2, during which the structure was sealed with researchers living inside. The first, with a crew of eight people, ran for two years from 1991 to 1993. Following a six-month transition period during which researchers entered the facility through airlock doors and conducted research and system engineering improvements, a second closure with a crew of seven people was conducted March 1994 – September 1994. In the course of that second mission, a dispute over management of the financial aspects of the project caused the on-site management to be locked out, and the mission itself to be ended prematurely. 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.

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