This week Diane and I have a friend visiting from back east. As locals generally do when guests visit, we used this visit as an excuse to go sightseeing at local attractions that we somehow never got the time to visit on our own.
So on Tuesday we drove north to take a tour of Biosphere 2, what has been called “a giant space-age ark in the middle of the desert.” The idea, as sold heavily to the public when it was built in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was that eight people would try to live in a closed system for two years, demonstrating the technology needed to both build colonies on other worlds as well as protect the environment here on Earth.
The system wasn’t really closed however (power came from outside), and during the first two year mission it seemed they were somewhat lax about keeping the system closed.
One Biospherian accidentally cut off the tip of her finger and left for medical care. When she returned, she carried in two duffle bags of supplies to the supposedly self-sustaining environment (which presumably would not have been feasible on, say, Mars).
There were also financial issues, as mentioned by our tour guide and confirmed by news stories. Its backer, Texas oil man Edward Bass, spent somewhere between $150 to $200 million. It seems however that the managers running Biosphere 2 didn’t keep good books, and when Bass asked for an accounting they couldn’t provide it. Instead, they attempted to sabotage the project’s second mission.
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