The Biosphere 2 – September 26 1991

 Hello everyone! Today’s post is a bit less on physics and technology and more about biology.

earth
Planet Earth

The biosphere is the layer of the Earth which encompasses all life, from the highest parts of the atmosphere where birds can fly to the deep depths of the oceans. It contains everything life needs to survive: air, water, energy from the Sun…etc. The other Earth layers are the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water) and the lithosphere (rock).

The Biosphere 2 is an ecological and Earth sciences research facility in the middle of the desert in Oracle,AZ  originally founded by Space Biosphere Ventures. It is a glass and steel structure similar to a large greenhouse which replicates of the Earth’s biosphere under closed conditions. Inside it has everything; oceans, deserts, rainforests and everything other living environment you can think of that naturally exists on the Earth.

Biosphere 2 interior
Biosphere 2 interior

Its original purpose was to gain experimental data that could be used to create similar structures in space where humans and other life could survive for log periods of time. It was also to learn about sustainable living and living in captivity. The experiment consisted of 8 humans , called bionauts, living within the Biosphere 2 for two years.

Crew of the Biosphere II
Biosphere 2 team

As glorious as this experiment sounds, it turned out to be a complete failure and was heavily ridiculed by the press at the time. Many things went wrong, but here are three:

1. The Biosphere 2 was meant to be self-sustaining just as our own biosphere is, however after 18 months the oxygen levels dropped so much that the bionauts hand trouble breathing and functioning. The project managers ended up having to pump oxygen into the system. There was also a quick build up of carbon dioxide gas, due to microorganisms in the soils metabolising at higher rates that normal.

2. Many of the other living species died out before the two years passed. Every single insect species died, which caused problems for the plants which needed some of these insects for pollination. This also had an effect on the bionauts’ food supplies in which they had to put more effort into keeping.

3. Internal disputes between the bionauts themselves arose.

Now , the Biosphere 2 is owned by the University of Arizona where they conduct university experiments and where visitors can take tours and learn more about the project and its mission.


Some highlights from the rest of the week!

soddy

Monday Sept 22 1956 – The English chemist and physicist who came up with the idea of isotopes, Frederick Soddy ,passed away. He theorised that atoms of the same element with different atomic masses were able to occupy the same place on the periodic table.

neptune_1563910c

Tuesday Sept 23 1846- Neptune was discovered by the German astronomer, Johnann G. Galle. The planet was hypothesised to exist due to influences on Uranus’ motion with its gravity. Its position was mathematically predicted by Urbain Le Verrier and was found by Galle 1° off of the predicted position!

ozone hole

Wednesday Sept 24 2006- NASA records the largest hole in the Earth’s ozone layer over Antartica. Ozone is essential to life on Earth because it absorbs some of the harmful UV rays from the sun. This revelation prompted us to be more conscious of the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

cablet

Thursday Sept 25 1956- The first transatlantic telephone cable began operation. It was designed to link the United States and Canada to the United Kingdom and is considered a huge breakthrough in telecommunications as we know it today.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “The Biosphere 2 – September 26 1991”

  1. This is the first time I have checked out your blog, and I have to say i really enjoy the concept. It’s nice to learn about what happened today in our scientific history. This article in particular was interesting because they replicated the Earth’s biosphere yet it could not sustain itself like how the actual Earth does. This raises questions as to why the oxygen levels dropped so low and why all the insect species died which could lead to new discoveries. These articles provide a spark of idea to maybe new concepts or thoughts. i will definitely visit this blog in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is incredible! I love learning new things about science and this post really drew in my attention. I don’t really have much to suggest about ways to improve your blog. This blog post makes me curious though; if they were unable to experimentally sustain a biosphere by setting this up the way that the earth is theoretically set up, then what were they missing? In other words, what do we not know about our own planet that makes it so sustainable to life? Nature just always seems to find its way I guess! Keep up the good work and post some more interesting things so I can come back and learn more!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As someone who runs their own science and technology based blog, I have to say this article is very interesting. I thoroughly appreciate the research and time you must have devoted to writing this article, since I have studied topics for the purpose of a blog, as well. I find this topic particularly interesting because I believe it’s efforts like these which will drive our ability to live in previously inhabitable climates and even on other planets. The fact that this experiment was conducted nearly two decades ago is encouraging because they must have made strides since then…Right? Anyways, keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is great! I expected many of the information-related blogs to be horribly boring, but yours is very precise, up-front, and factual. It’s short enough to remain engaging, but there’s plenty of information. I’ve been to the Biosphere 2, myself, so this was neat to read about.

    Like

  5. This is the first time I have stumbled upon your blog and I really liked it! I happen to be a Bio major, so it was really cool for me to read a blog related to biology. I found the blog very interesting and I like how not only you put a long specific event, but also the ‘this day in history’ kind of thing. Very nice!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wowzerz, I’ve never heard of this before! I’ve always wondered about artificial environments being created on other planets, and this goes to show that others are wondering the same thing. Great job digging this one up! As many others have said, this is a great and informative idea, and I like how you incorporated other events as well. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a really interesting experiment. Do you have any idea why the oxygen level was so low? Like what caused the microorganisms in the soil to metabolize at a rate higher than the usual?
    Anyways, its nice to actually see a blog with new and enticing/not redundant content for a change.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s