First question: If there’s a Biosphere 2, where is the first one?
Answer: Our gorgeous blue Earth is the first biosphere.
Everybody in our family that went to Biosphere 2 loved it, but can we explain it? Nope. Not efficiently, anyways.
We entered through an airlock door to visit the interior of the main Biosphere 2 structure. Then we got to “experience first-hand the wilderness environments and hear about the Uof A Science research made possible by this engineering marvel.” (flyer)
Facts from their flyer:
-glass-enclosed facility is 3.14 acres!
-7.2 million ft cubed enclosed under 6,500 windows
=91 ft tall at highest point and sealed from earth below by a 500-ton welded stainless steel liner
-thousands of miles of wiring, pipes and ductwork
-hundreds of scientific publications and countless new discoveries
-40 acre campus include 300,000 square feet of administrative offices, classrooms, laboratories, conference facilities,and residential and student housing.
The land on which the Biosphere 2 is built has had various uses in the past. Of course, for generations it was home for Native Americans. Then ranchers and miners took up residence in the 1800’s. A portion of a stagecoach route is still visible nearby.
A wealthy Countess of Suffolk built her Casa del Oro estate on a nearby hilltop in the 1950’s. Motorola and the U of A have had conference centres located here in the 1960’s & 70’s. In 1984 thos current facility was begun to research and develop self-sustaining space-colonization technology under Space Biospheres Ventures. Changing more hands it’s been owned and/or controlled by various groups, but in 2011 it was gifted to the U of A.
Claudio, tour guide. I have been amazed to see the self-confidence of Gaelyn increase. She is now often at the front of the crowd, answering questions, volunteering, etc. Huge change.
Although our tour guide, Claudio, was thorough and knowledgeable much of the info I think went over our heads. But we still marvelled at a closed system where people would have lived for over 2 years (Mission 1) studying the inter-relationship of environs and organisms and the recycling of water and air.
Maret peering into the rainforest
Kitchen where Mission participants were scheduled to cook for everybody else every 8 days during the entire mission.
Would be a perfect table for our large family.
Rainforests provide many medicinal plants along with huge amounts of oxygen. We need to take care of them, and learn from the natives how to use the plants for our well being and that of the earth.
Rainforests have levels to them. There is the ground floor, then the understory, the canopy and then the emergent layer about 200 feet above the ground.
Gaelyn and the other kids used the microscopes to compare different grains of sand from various locations on the globe. They also saw worms that live in the ice!
Mission Log books
Savannas are found between deserts and tropical rain forests, most of them in Africa, South America and India. Not enough rain falls on a savanna to support forest, which is why they are mostly grass. It is a rolling grassland scattered with shrubs and isolated trees. Biosphere 2’s savanna was created primarily with edible species.
This used to be a tropical ocean but they are transitioning to be coral reef. The Sea of Cortez.
Water i.e. hydrology, is a huge part of what Biosphere 2 is now about. Where does the water all go? How much is transpired by the plant? What ends up in surface water, aquifers, evaporation? How long do different plants hold water and where exactly? How can we best manage the water that we have in our closed-system on earth? What happens with different slopes and different plants?
Hands on activity for the kids to build Water Cycles
Toveli does a puzzle of the Water Cycle
Laars is comparing how fast molecules of water would move through soil that is loosely packed or more tightly packed.
There was WAY more that we did, hands on, read, had explained to us. But we were full to overflowing with information we couldn’t even process. So much more to learn, but for now, that’s enough.