Many things have been said, noted, and documented about the famous experiment referred to as “Biosphere 2” (B2). For anyone whose youth coincided with the first 90s, this name probably sounds familiar. When the project was first launched in 1991, it has been heavily publicized, criticized, and was even the topic of a documentary titled “Spaceship Earth” – that premiered in May of 2020.
To listen to a number of what’s been said about B2 (even after 30 years), one might get the impression that it had been a failure that proved citizenry cannot live together during a sealed environment for extended periods of your time. But in fact, it had been an incredible learning experience, the results of which still inform human spaceflight and ecosystem research today. Those lessons are more vital than ever renewed interplanetary exploration,
This is the aim behind the Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM²), a replacement analog experiment led by Kai Staats and Adams. Alongside a world team of specialists, experts from the University of Arizona, and support provided by NASA, the National Geographic Society, and commercial partners, SAM² will validate the systems and technology which will one-day leave colonies on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
As noted, the B2 experiment conducted vital research project and achieved some impressive feats within the process. For initiators, it set world records for closed ecological and biological systems, agricultural production, nutrition, and atmospheric dynamics and during its second run from Mar. to Sept. of 1994 the experiment successfully brings out total self-sufficiency in terms of food production and oxygen.
Today, with crewed missions to the Moon and Mars on the horizon, the necessity for closed ecosystem experiments is completely necessary. this is often especially the case seeing as how no experiments of this type are conducted since the mid-90s.
Luckily, Kai Staats – an independent scientist with projects and positions at Northwestern/LIGO, Arizona State, and therefore the University of Arizona – and Adams (the Deputy Director of the B2 experiment), have close with a world team to launch such an attempt. Using an equivalent ground as B2, SAM2 are going to be an extension of B2’s original research.
As humanity embarks on a replacement era of space exploration that has plans to make habitats on the Moon and Mars, the teachings provided by B2 and SAM² will provide vital data that would alright be the difference between success and failure – or within the context of deep-space exploration, between life and death.
The B2 experiment was originally invented by Texas billionaire and philanthropist Ed Bass and ecologist and inventor John P. Allen. within the 1970s, the two of them met up at Synergia Ranch, an innovation community retreat founded by Allen in 1969 near New Mexico state capital Santa Fe, New Mexico. While there, the 2 discussed the thought of biospheres, closed ecological systems, and therefore the concept of “Spaceship Earth.”
Construction was administered between 1987 and 1991 and was overseen by Space Biosphere Ventures, a joint endeavour founded by Bass and Allen, alongside several of their colleagues from the Synergia Ranch.
They included artist and entrepreneur Marie Harding, co-founder of Institute of Ecotechnics and; Margaret Augustine, CEO of B2 and chief architect of the many related projects; Dr. Mark Nelson, an ecological engineer and co-founder of the Institute of Ecotechnics (IoE); Abigail Kingsley Alling, founder and president of the Biosphere Foundation; and William F. Dempster, president of IoE (1983-86) and therefore the director of Ocean Expeditions (1987-1993).
The first experiment started at the end of 1991, when eight explorers were placed into a $150-million facility outside of Oracle, Arizona. the power consisted of roughly 670,000 m² (7,200,000 ft²) of interior space beneath sealed glass, which was divided into seven biomes distributed over 3.14 acres of land. Each of those biomes was designed to mimic a special environment here on Earth, which consisted of a:
1,900 m² (20,000 ft²) rainforest
850 m² (9,100 ft²) ocean with a reef
450 m² (4,800 ft²) mangrove wetlands
1,300 m² (14,000 ft²) savannah grassland
1,400 m² (15,000 ft²) fog desert with two anthropogenic biomes
2,500 m² (27,000 ft²) agricultural system human habitat with housing, labs, offices, classrooms, and workshops
These analog environments were near-perfect representations of their real-life counterparts, with indigenous flora and fauna and ambient temperature and humidity conditions set good. The basement area, referred to as the Technosphere, housed all the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems for the experiment. This included the 26 air handlers (AH) that might heat and funky the air, remove particulate, control humidity, condense water for rain, fog, and replenishing the ocean. Further heating and cooling were provided by passive solar input through the glass panels that covered most of the power, plus an independent piping system that circulated water throughout. electric power was supplied from an on-site gas energy center.
Today, B2 is currently the world’s largest indoor ecology research facility with an in depth array of experiments. Since 1991, it’s been visited by no but 3 million patrons, half 1,000,000 of which were K-12 students. the power has since become a source of renewed interest thanks partially to a renewed interest in human space exploration.
The lessons it provided have also notified experiments like NASA’s Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue & Simulation mission to Mars (Hi-SEAS), the open-air Mars analog experiment located at the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. a complete of six NASA-funded studies have taken place during this facility since 2013, which involve crews living during a sealed Martian habitat and conducting outdoor research in mock spacesuits for up to a year.
The Mars Society also operates two open-air analog environments, which include the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (on Devon Island within the Nunavut Territory, Canada) and therefore the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. Both locations are operational since the first 2000s and simulate conditions on Mars – one being very cold, the opposite very dry.
In 2018, China began developing the C-Space Project Mars within the hills of Gansu. Currently, the power is meant for tourists to coach them living on Mars would be like. However, the long-term aim is to convert the power into an astronaut training center for future missions to Mars.
The European Space Agency (ESA) maintains a search station in Antarctica referred to as Concordia. the power, which is operated by the French Polar Institute (IPEV) and therefore the Italian Antarctic Program (PNRA), is found quite 1000 km (620 mi) from stations on the coast and has been wont to conduct studies into psychology, physiology, and medicine, sometimes lasting for a full winter.
NASA also preserves an open-air, three-story artificial habitat called the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) at the Johnson Space Center. Since 2014, HERA has served as an analog environment to coach astronauts the way to affect isolation, confinement, and remoteness scenarios during exploration missions.
There’s also the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO), which involves astronauts, engineers, and scientists spending up to 3 weeks at a time in Aquarius.
Between 1965 and 1972, the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) built the BIOlogical closed life network (BIOS-3) research center in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.
Air quality was maintained partially by photosynthesis, where chlorella algae grown and stacked under artificial light would remove CO² and add oxygen gas to the recycled air system. Another process involved heating organic compounds to 600 °C (~1100 °F) within the presence of a catalyst was wont to purify water, and air and nutrients were also recycled.
The RAS also performed experiments between 2007 and 2011 using their Mars-500 analog environment. In partnership with the ESA, the RAS Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) placed a multinational crew of six into this habitat for a 520-day simulated mission to Mars to find out more about the psychological implications of long-duration spaceflight.
There are some who would say, “let’s fix Earth before we attend the Moon, Mars, and beyond.” Others insist that the 2 aren’t mutually exclusive. But the truth is that the 2 are inextricably intertwined. It also wouldn’t be an exaggeration to mention that we won’t be ready to do the one without the opposite. So if we hope to try to either, we’d like to form sure that we accumulate all the info we could possibly need.
With all of the solutions that these will cause, citizenry may finally achieve the dream of becoming an interplanetary species while also ensuring our survival here reception.