Inhabitants Enter Biosphere 2

Inside Biosphere 2, 16 years later. Photo courtesy of www.divinecaroline.com.

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 26. 1991

A group of scientists, four men and four women, began a two-year stay inside “Biosphere 2”, a sealed structure in Oracle, AZ.

Biosphere 2 is a 3.14-acre structure originally built to be an artificial, materially-closed ecological system in Oracle, Arizona 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, Biosphere 2 was used to explore the complex web of interactions within life systems in a structure that included five areas based on natural biomes and an agricultural area and human living/working space to study the interactions between humans, farming and technology with the rest of nature. It also explored the possible use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth’s.

Its name comes from Earth’s biosphere, Biosphere 1. Earth’s life system is the only biosphere currently known. Funding for the project came primarily from the joint venture’s financial partner, Ed Bass’ Decisions Investment, and cost $200 million from 1985 to 2007, including land, support research greenhouses, test module and staff facilities.

Biosphere’s four residents had planned to have no contact with the outside world; to grow their own food and live peacefully together as future pioneers in a harsh and alien world. Unfortunately, the outside world had to intervene a few times; to get rid of an ant invasion, to pump in oxygen, to tend to a health emergencies, to bring in forgotten necessities like makeup. The scientific team managed to last out the term, but they were half-crazy and half-starved when U.S. marshals led them out two years later.