Yesterday we visited Biosphere 2, which is located north of Tucson at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. It took us a little over an hour to drive out to the facility but it was a nice drive with lots to see. Hubby has been interested in Biosphere 2 since September 1991 when eight people were locked inside, to live without physical contact with the outside world for two years. Biosphere 2 was a miniature version of Earth with an ocean, a desert, a rain-forest and the other ecosystems of Biosphere I — also known as Earth.
The tour takes a couple of hours and admission is $20.00 per person, but I found a Groupon so it only cost $25.00 for the two of us.
We started off at the Visitor Centre and then walked through the conference and dormitory area, which looked really nice … I wouldn’t mind staying there!
Once you are through this area you can see the various buildings that make up Biosphere 2.
We entered the building in the second picture through an airlock door, these doors help create a closure that minimized the loss of air to only 10% a year. This made Biosphere 2 one of the most tightly sealed buildings in the world.
Before the tour started we wander through part of the living area. Each of the eight crew members had their own apartment which consisted of a living room on one floor and a spiral staircase to the bedroom on the second floor. Biospherian’s were connected to the outside world by phone and computer.
Meals were made in a communal kitchen and each team member was responsible for cooking the meals every eight days. Their shift started with dinner and ended with lunch the next day.
One of the crew was a physician who checked each Biospherian every eight weeks. The physical exam included a routine check of weight, pulse rate, blood pressure, blood work, body temperature, eyes, ears, throat, and reflexes. During the first year the crew lost weight but during the second year they regained some of the weight they lost during the first year.
Our tour began with a walk through the rain forest
We then passed by the ocean
That was followed by a walk through the desert, where I took a picture of a Boojum Tree and when I looked at it later I saw I had also capture the Santa Catalina Mountains in the background 🙂
We then headed down to the basement to visit one of the dome shaped lungs. The lungs allow for air expansion due to changes in pressure inside the structure.
Our tour ended with a visit to the underwater viewing area were we saw the eco system in the Biosphere 2 ocean.
During the second year some of the crew experienced symptoms like sleep apnea and fatigue, which led the medical team to add additional oxygen to the Biosphere in January and August 1993. This action caused some to say the experiment failed as the crew was unable to survive the two years without help from the outside world.
There is so much more in the world of science going on inside Biosphere 2 but to be honest I was more interested in how the eight people lived for two years. If you are interested in science I’m sure you would really enjoy visiting this facility.
Until next time …