Goodbye, Biosphere 2

When I was in eighth or ninth grade, I was utterly fascinated by the BIosphere 2 project. Originally proposed as an experiment in creating a mini-Earth for those living on worlds we colonize, the project quickly became something of a joke.

The idea was a good one- create an enclosed version of many of the biomes of the Earth. The rather large greenhouse contained seven biomes and a handful of what were referred to as Bionauts. It was the size of one or two football fields. I did a presentation for my ninth-grade biology class that I ended presenting to most of the school and the parents on the project, its design, and its goals, which included a floorplan of how the bioshpere was laid out. It was a pretty fun project.

The problems began shortly after the Bionauts took up residence. I actually stopped listening to a radio station becasue they were making fun of the strict rules the Bionauts were given. They were supposed to be completely self-sufficient, no contact with the outside world, so some of the rules reflected that. (The radio station was particularly harsh on not allowing the female members of the crew to become pregnant. The facilities weren’t designed for familes, nor for delivering a baby, so this was a fairly reasonable expectation.)

Then one of the crew member was injured. The medical facilites inside the project weren’t. Somehow, they hadn’t actually planned for serious injuries when they designed it. The injured crew member had to exit the project, thereby breaking the whole point of it being self-sufficient. Biosphere 2 was considered a failed project at that point, and nearly abandoned.

It eventually became a science museum run by one of Arizona’s universities, but is now scheduled to be demolished to become housing.

It was an interesting idea, but poorly executed. How I will miss it!

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