Saturday, January 5, 2013

Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2, located north of Tucson, Arizona was my next “must see” stop and I certainly was not disappointed. This one-of-a-kind facility was opened to the public in 1990. From the visitor center I descended a walkway where I first sighted the complex.

From the outside it looks like a cross between a modern art museum and an outer space movie set. But it is real and very big. It was created to better understand how natural environments create habitable condition for human sustainability, an idea which I find very exciting.

The building has 6,500 windows and 7,200,000 cubic feet of sealed glass. It is also sealed from the earth below by a 500-ton welded stainless steel liner. It is truly mind boggling. You can see some of the tropical forest through this section of windows.

The arrow points to the door.

I entered this massive structure through the airlock door that was similar to those of a submarine and then it really hit home that a group of people lived sealed inside for 2 years from 1991-1993.

After a short movie, the tour took me to the tropical savanna. The trail system then travels along the 40-foot ocean cliff where you look down into the million gallon tropical ocean.

The ocean even has a coral reef that was donated from a part of the Great Barrier Reef that broke off. Currently they are studying the virus that is attacking the reef to help heal the one in the ocean. You can see plot lines in the water to assist in their study.  Notice the boat?  That is a real life size row boat not a tiny model!

From  there we walked into the tropical rainforest which contains over 150 different species of plants, some more than 60 feet tall! It was so dense it was almost claustrophobic. It was modeled after the Venezuelan rainforest.

Next we descended into the lower savanna along the mangrove through the tropical thorn scrub and into the coastal desert.

In this area someone was conducting an experiment on how rocks are broken down into soil by lichen, insects, water, wind etc. Samples of each of these rocks…..

…were placed in containers with controlled environments.

From the desert, we went into the technosphere. The technosphere is where mechanical systems make control of the Biosphere 2 environments possible. First we were in the water circulating area.

Then through a narrow tunnel into one of the two “lungs” of Biosphere 2.

This extra-large room looked like an air tight room that contained a space craft that was being studied by evil scientists. The top portion was a giant rubber half-globe that moved up and down as the pressure rose and fell within the facility to prevent the Biosphere from exploding or imploding.

We stepped out of the lung into Biosphere 1 (Earth) and you can see below how massive the lung is and that is just one of them. Like us it has 2 lungs.

My tour ended in the human habitat were the Biospherians lived and the kitchen where they cooked their meals. They grew all of there food in the complex.

Here is one of the apartments where the Biospherians lived. The spiral stairs lead up to the sleeping area.

I was so impressed with this complex and encourage anyone in the area to visit.  There is much more that I didn't cover in this blog and you might want to check it out on the web for more information.  Meanwhile, back to my tiny camper.

Linked to Scenic Sunday, be sure to visit other sites online.

1 comment:

Potomac Valley Nature Writing Group Reading List said...

Would love to see this, very Star Trekky. It underscores what Gaia does for all life forms so effectively and perfectly and free.