Biosphere 2: Description, Purpose and Conceptual Design

by John Allen, Chairman, Biosphere, LLC

 

What Is Biosphere 2?

Biosphere 2 is a seven biome closed system first approximation model of Earth’s biosphere (Biosphere 1). It is essentially materially closed (6.2% leak rate of air per year); energetically open with 16,000 square meters of glass surface taking in about 45% of the ambient radiation, with a peak entry of 7,000 kilowatts of solar energy; approximately 12,800 square meters (or about three midtown Manhattan blocks) in airtight footprint; with nearly 6,000,000 moles or 180 tons of atmosphere; 4,500 cubic meters of water, five-sixths of that in its ocean; and 28,000 tons of soil containing 3% carbon.

Biosphere 2 is located at 3235′ N latitude and 11050′ W longitude at an elevation of 3900′. Outside temperatures range from 23 F to 104 F. The area’s rainfall is concentrated in the ]uly-early September monsoon and December to March winter. Biosphere 2 is designed to operate with inside temperatures between 55 F and 95 F.

Biosphere 2 started off with an estimated 20 tons of living biomass distributed in about 4000 species. This amount was projected to grow to 60 tons over the first few years. The stabilized number of species at that time is estimated to be between 3000 and 3800 or a loss range of 5 -20%.

Eight adult humans with their five-level cybernetic system connected to 1900 sensors are living in Biosphere 2 with 100% recycle of their water, food, waste, and air minus the air’s leak rate of 1/6000 per day. This graph (figure 1) shows the carbon dioxide on a three day moving average in parts per million for the past month, contrasted with the ambient solar radiation measured in einsteins/m2/day. About 45% of that radiation enters Biosphere 2. As you see, on sunny days the system now, in winter, stabilizes at well under 2000 ppm, but a several day storm can still drive it above 2000 ppm. The radiation will more than double by summer solstice and the carbon dioxide will drop probably to around 1000 ppm. The trace gases such as methane, nitrogen oxides, ethylene, sulfides, and so on are each running well below EP A and Department of Health established levels.

The Purpose of Biosphere 2

The purpose of the Biosphere 2 project is threefold: to elucidate the laws of biospherics; to create the corporate capacity to design, build, operate, and consult on the management of artificial biospheres; and to assist in the ecological improvement of the human impacts on Earth’s biosphere.

Biosphere 2′ s main experiment is, of course, to measure the biospheric hypothesis: how self-regulating is a biospheric system? To accomplish this, Biosphere 2 has several specific experiments underway to test and measure the response and adaptation of the total system and of each of its biomes to the light and atmospheric conditions. The response, systemic and biomic, of a range of biospheres to a range of conditions can be of great importance both in evaluating changes in Earth’s biosphere and in designing planetary settlements.
The first of these experiments is measuring and monitoring how the system responds to receiving less than 50% of the ambient radiation. Since photosynthesis is the driving force of the biotic growth and circulation of matter, the operating success of Biosphere 2 already confirms a great deal about this kind of system’s deep adaptive capacity, a property predicted by biospheric theory, historical geology, and SBV’s experimental work in its Test Module and in the semi-enclosed Biosphere 2 in the year preceding closure.

It was decided not to use artificial light to bring radiation up to outside levels because the results of using artificial light are already well-known thanks to excellent NASA and Russian work where conditions were set-up to maximize production of a single species, such as wheat, or several similar species in the case of the Russian Bios-3 work. However, in future experiments Biosphere 2 is designed so that artificial light can be installed and adjusted to control the amount of radiant energy going to Biosphere 2 as a whole or into individual biomes. Light is a controlled variable. Restricted light input with a big seasonal variation seemed the best way to begin to determine this adaptive range.

The second major experiment flows from the first. At this restricted light level, the carbon dioxide would be at a higher level than Bio- sphere 1; indeed we had calculated on the basis of our Test Module work that Biosphere 2 would operate between 1000 and 2000 ppm when the system’s soil matured. But Dr. Robert Frye’s carbon dioxide model, based on SBV’s Test Module work, plus soil measurements in Biosphere 2, showed that the first few months could run higher, up to the 3900′s the first winter due to excess respiration from the soils, before they reached equilibrium. Many physiological experiments, including in SBV’s Test Module and NASA and submarine operations, showed that this level of C02 poses no problem for humans, animals, or plants, with the exception of the coral reef system in the ocean.

The Biosphere 2 ocean would perforce be our third major experiment because of atmospheric C02′s influence on the acidity of the ocean. We debated leaving out the coral reef, but decided that in spite of the fact that it would either force the use of artificial light or else be the weak link in the chain, we would go ahead with it since coral reefs and rainforests are not only the two richest biomes in terms of species, but the two most threatened on planet Earth today. The unprecedented scale and complexity of Biosphere 2′s artificial coral reef would mean a major breakthrough in synthetic ecology , if we succeeded, and thus give SBV important intellectual capital to assist in restoration ecology of these areas. The coral reef would also test to the fullest the scientific and technical know-how that SBV thought it had on the atmosphere.

After careful study, we set 7.8 pH of the ocean as a red alert minimum for the winter campaign. This meant we had to assist Biosphere 2 in keeping maximum carbon dioxide levels to the low 3000 ppm’s, not let it rise to the nearly 4000 ppm predicted. By changing the dormancy period in the savannah from winter to summer, restricting composting in December, and by using a specially designed carbon dioxide recycler for the solstice period during the first winter that would take about 20% of the excess soil respiration, we figured to keep the average daily carbon dioxide levels 15-20% below the 4000 ppm which was projected to occur during prolonged storm events when light levels lower to less than 10 einsteins/m2/day. We designed in an aragonite buffering capacity and prepared to increase the alkalinity to counter the inevitable drop in pH. We thought a species loss of 20-25% (or 8-10 coral species) was quite possible. The ocean did well at pH 7.8 to 7.9 in this period, although in days-long storms the pH dropped briefly to 7.7, rising again to pH 8.0 in late January. The reef has lost no coral species since closure and is now flourishing.

The fourth important experiment is in the agricultural system. It is specially designed as a synthesis of tropical and subtropical food systems such as the rice-fish-azolla, sweet potato-pig-peanut, chicken-vegetable-grain, and mixed-tree horticulture. In addition, it is operating under predation by a variety of pests with no chemically toxic pesticides available and with 100% waste recycle. It is also recycling all nutrients and therefore the system is sustainable since soil fertility requirements can be maintained. It is producing at per- haps world record level a complete diet in winter for eight adults in little over half an acre. The results of this ongoing experiment hold interesting implications for the “Hunger Belt” of planet Earth which is located primarily in the tropics and subtropics, as well as for designing small area agricultural systems for space settlements, especially considering that on Mars artificial light would more than double the amount of light entering such a closed system.

A fifth experiment, under the supervision of a group of twelve geneticists headed by Dr. Stephen J. O’Brien, is to monitor temporal changes in genetic diversity among selected Biosphere 2 species, including testing models of the extinction process against actual extinction events. This topic is of great importance in work with endangered species of small populations.

Other variables are being experimented with, and more can be in the future as the range of results from some of these first experiments are understood; for example, variations in temperature, rainfall, invasive plants or predators, or some other component of the atmosphere such as methane. Biosphere 2 is an apparatus which hundreds, if not thousands of scientists will use to study many variables during its projected 100 year existence. SBV welcomes research groups to pre- sent their programs of study for consideration including putting a person inside Biosphere 2 with a specific program on the basis of shared costs in future closures. Indeed, so much can be done in these areas that SBV stands ready to build Biosphere 3 for interested governments or corporations.

Biosphere 2′s Conceptual Design

Biosphere 2′s design can trace its conceptual roots directly to the Russian scientific school called cosmicism which included Mendeleev, discoverer of the periodic table of elements; Dokuchaev, the father of soil science; Tsiolkovsky, the visionary of space travel; and Vernadsky , the originator of biospheric theory.

Vernadsky defined Earth’s biosphere as a cosmic phenomenon that is an evolving geologic force, its pressure of life shaping the atmosphere, crust, and oceans of a planet. This definition implies that biospheres need not be limited to the planet Earth. Tsiolkovsky’s program of human voyages and settlement throughout space, powered by rockets, could be made possible by meioses of Earth’s bio- sphere. The Russians say, “We will grow apples on Mars.”

Vernadsky saw the technosphere growing out of the biosphere as a natural result of the evolutionary process. The predicted future harmonization of biosphere and technosphere he called noosphere. Biosphere 2 is in effect a model for Noosphere 1.

In the period 1970-1973, Mark Nelson, myself and others formed a small nonsalaried think-tank, The Institute of Ecotechnics, dedicated to studying the harmonizing of the biosphere and technosphere, “the ecology of technics and technics of ecology.” The Moon landing fired our imaginations about the possibilities of settling space. The worsening environment gave an even stronger motivation to understand the biosphere and its relationship with the technosphere.

In 1970 we had became aware of the depth and range of Vernadsky’ s hypothesis through Hutchinson’s work at Yale. But Vernadsky’s theory had a deficiency: just how did the biosphere do all that self-organizing work, increasing order in its essentially materially closed, though energetically open system?

From Russian cosmicism, the Institute went to Anglo-American empirical pragmatism. James Lovelock, with Lynn Margulis, showed how microbes, with their rapid multiplication and genetic changeability, furnish the negative feedback process to control the composition of the biosphere’s unifying medium, its atmosphere. With this dynamic system of reactions between atmospheric molecules and soil microbes the biospheric system could adjust to changing conditions it encountered, such as increasing solar radiation, giant meteoric impacts, and catastrophic volcanic events, to maintain continuously, for 3.8 billion years, a life-friendly environment. The Institute also began at that time to work with Eugene and Howard Odum’s studies on material cycles and energy flows through mesocosms. The Odums had recommended as early as 1971 to build a closed system model of the biosphere.

The full secret of biospherics had still not been unraveled because the biosphere is a structured complexity, not just a simple, total system. The clue to unravel that complexity lay hidden in the word “ecosystem.” The biosphere was built on ecosystems, but what level of ecosystems was the basic building block? Certainly, not the one under a fingernail. Ecology recognizes several major spatial distributions of life including biomes, bioregions, and patches. Biomes are thought to be the decisive building block of the biosphere.

To implement the study of biomes, the Institute designed, built, and has operated since 1975, the Research Vessel Heraclitus now under the flag of Belize. The Heraclitus sailed around the world, up the Amazon, to Antarctica and several times around the Caribbean and across the Indian Ocean. We held shipboard conferences with local experts. This experience gave first-hand knowledge of coral reef, marsh, and rainforest biomes. Field studies were also made by the Institute in rainforest, savannah and desert in Puerto Rico, Israel, Australia, and United States.

At the same time, the Institute began its series of annual three-day conferences inviting leading scientists to present their work and thoughts in each of the major biomes; oceans, deserts, savannahs, rainforests, and after that on the Earth as a whole, and then the solar system with especial emphasis on the Moon and Mars.

In 1983, the Institute’ s concept of biomes acting as the building block ecosystem in biospherics design was reinforced by the discovery of the detailed biomic work of Kamshilov in Russia. The biosphere organized the biomes. The biomes organized the bioregions. The bioregions organized ecosystems in which communities could be identified existing in patches. Naturally, there is a two-way process in all this.

On the design side of space settlements, Apollo and Viking data showed that the Moon and Mars could host enclosed biospheres, albeit under difficult conditions. Some space theorists envisioned that two ecosystems would be sufficient; a technical or “city” ecosystem for people to live in, and an agricultural ecosystem for them to live off. However, analysis shows that these man-made ecosystems or “anthropogenic biomes” tend to degrade in order over time. At least one and probably several wilderness biomes would be required to ensure a working biosphere, an evolving life system as potentially long-lived as Biosphere 1 on the Moon or Mars.

In 1984, the Institute of Ecotechnics sold its intellectual capital in biospherics to Space Biospheres Ventures (SBV) corporation, whose Chairman and Founder is Edward Perry Bass of Fort Worth, Texas, a venture capitalist and a man of deep and broad interests in ecology. Mr. Bass is an active member on the boards of World Wildlife fund, Jane Goodall’s Foundation, New York Botanical and others. He is also chairman of the Advisory cornmittee of Yale’s Institute of Biospherics. SBV’s President and CEO is Margret Augustine who was since 1978, head of a design and project corporation, SARBID. Mr. Bass authorized Augustine; Nelson; William Dempster, a systems engineer; Phil Hawes, an architect; and myself to proceed to conceptually design a biosphere which, if feasible, would be built and operated by Space Biospheres Ventures.

However, SBV’s intellectual capital still lacked something. It could not answer how humans would work in closed systems, so SBV turned for help to three extraordinary Russians who had pioneered humans in closed systems. Gorbachev’s declaration of openness, reconstruction, and democracy in May, 1986, created opportunity for full and open talks that November. Mark Nelson, now SBV’s Director of Space Applications, met Academician Oleg Gazenko, Director of the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow in 1985 to discuss questions of mutual interest in biospherics and space.

Gazenko’s lifelong friend, Evgenii Shepelev, had been the first man to live in a closed system, only he and the chlorella algae. He braved the most minimal, difficult system which could not maintain him more than a day. Eventually, Shepelev and his co-workers got a man to live in one for a month. It was heroic. The toxic gas percentages rose to borderline levels, carbon monoxide especially. The algal food, said Shepelev, was not tasty nor tolerable in quantities above one ounce/day. But, the chlorella did succeed in regenerating the required water and oxygen.

Gazenko informed us that he had asked a special visitor to our sessions, Dr. Josef Gitelson, director of the BIOS experiments of the Institute of Biophysics in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, research which till then had only been a rumor because Krasnoyarsk was a city closed to the West. It was his series of Bios-3 experiments from 1972 to 1984 in which three people had survived in good health for periods up to six months in an enclosed plant environment of vegetables plus chlorella. Their wastes were handed out and protein and make-up water were sent in, but the air, virtually all the water, and well over fifty percent of the food was recycled.

The Russians’ work held the last key to the design of artificial bio- spheres: what can happen to humans inside these apparatuses. They had explored the worst possible cases: humans in truncated ecosystems designed for small-volume microgravity destinations, supplying the minimum necessary to survive for limited amounts of time.

Since people had survived these difficult conditions and the atmospheric, dietetic and medical measurements were given to us to inspect, several years of medical research could be cut from our Biosphere 2 design work. A major line of data had come in which we needed to finish the conceptual design. We excitedly talked late into the Moscow evening.

Looming over us now were the problems of jumping scale. The only closed ecosystems thoroughly studied were the one-liter microbial communities sealed by Clair Folsome, a NASA exobiologist and SBV consultant. They proved that microbes indeed possessed the system- regulating properties postulated by Margulis, but we could already see in 1985 that the scale of Biosphere 2, to model Biosphere 1 in the simplest form, had to be about eight orders of magnitude larger than that one liter size. 50, an intermediate closed system had to be constructed. The Test Module would be the first closed system ever to recycle 100% of the air, water, food, and waste of one human being.

From microbes, to one human, to eight humans would be the three scale points. With research on atmospherics, microbes, biomes, and the requirements of the human species well underway, the engineers’ turn came: tighter sealing than ever before achieved with a closed life structure; controlled variable circulation of water and air; control of rainfall and temperature; admission of light; shedding the heat load; handling variable atmospheric expansion and contraction; a rnaintenance system that could be handled in a half man-week per week; a non-polluting analytical laboratory; and a five-level cybernetic sys- tem whose base would consist of nearly two thousand sensors to gather data, and whose top would have a global networking capacity .

The biospherian training program then had to be designed. To operate such a complex, dynamic, variable, large-scale, new kind of apparatus with only eight people, the biospherians would need a wide range of professional and technical level skills to carry out the many operations.

The biospherians would be trained in what was called “binocular vision”: to observe as naturalists the raw phenomena, inductively, and to operate the computer system models to work on what could be extracted deductively. They would have to learn to be managers, each person being responsible for two or three major areas. They had to learn farming practices, food processing and cuisine in order to be able to use the produce of the one hundred and fifty crops. They had to learn to trouble-shoot and operate complex technical systems. They had to take voyages on the ocean and work in remote areas to develop their mastery of small group dynamics. They would have to hone their communication skills. They would need to understand biospherics, the relationships of atmosphere, biomes, species, temperature, water, the food web, so that trends could be quickly spotted. They needed excellent health.

The program for skills acquisition was launched in 1986 with the cooperation, for example, in medicine alone, of doctors at the medical schools of the University of Arizona and UCLA, and the US Navy advance corpsman program for health care in remote locations. Three leading insect laboratories set-up special apprentice programs for SBV’s agriculturist.

We borrowed many concepts from NASA including a Mission Control System. To deal with catastrophes, we created a Biosphere Emergency Response Team composed of both Mission Control and Biosphere 2 crew members. Several people closely connected with Apollo, including George Mueller, visited and imbued SBV with their spirit and words of wisdom that would prove indispensable for the completion of Biosphere 2 such as “Keep it simple” and ‘The better is the enemy of the good”, and most importantly “All-up testing” meaning that everything in Biosphere 2, as on Saturn V, would be a functioning system the first time it was launched.

To make sure of that, before building the Test Module and Biosphere 2, we needed to design and build a Biospheric Research and Development Center consisting of 20,000 square feet where some key parts of each Biosphere 2 biome could be tested, especially the new system of agriculture. An analytical and tissue culture building were also built along with the computer system research center which, upon closure, would transform into Mission Control. In addition, five Federal level quarantine units, four for plants and one for insects had to be constructed to receive collections from abroad.

On management design, SBV decided rather than hire a large staff of full time scientists for a building project that would soon end, to design a flattened hierarchy consultant network based on a corporate E-Mail system. In this way we could access leading scientists who were already quite busy directing institutes or major programs for the hours or days, as needed. We sent computers and training where necessary to keep the knowledge flowing.

Each design area had an ecologist, an engineer, and a designer component that SBV managers coordinated, keeping in synch with the overall critical path. In addition, we held several face-to-face work- shops and conferences bringing together all the areas, including the first two international conferences on biospherics: the first in 1987 at the Royal Society, London; and in 1989 co-sponsored the second with the Institute of Biophysics in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Also important in completing the biome designs were the field expeditions and collections made possible with the cooperation of the governments of Guyana, Bahamas, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Because of the key importance of microbes to biospheres, the soils had to be a separate design area. Two aims had to be achieved: enough different soils to support the different bioregions, and also enough to produce the conditions necessary for the entire range of microbes to insure stabilizing feedbacks to gross changes in atmospheric composition. In agriculture, the soil microbes would be given a back up technical system to accelerate the decomposition of any toxic gas buildup by becoming a soil bed reactor which could be turned on and off and controlled by adjusting air flow rates in ten areas.

Among the material masses that had to be figured in, the amount and distribution of carbon in the start up of the system was a major factor. Enough carbon had to be in the soils to allow for the growth of the biomes into their maximum biomass state, but not so much easily available that carbon dioxide respiring from the soil in the first few months would make the ocean too acidic.

At this point, with the component parts identified, the logistics were designed to move toward closure as quickly and economically as scientifically justifiable. To do this, the ecological, agricultural, computer, analytic, construction, maintenance, engineering, testing, training, and communications programs had to be translated to the same critical path chart, otherwise we would have a major investment sitting for years awaiting a sequential finish of these various components. So, with construction workers overhead and underfoot, rainforests, oceans, and agricultural areas were planted and began operating for over a year before full closure. We wanted at least fifty percent operating capacity in each of the different biomes during the winter before closure, 1990-91, including some corals in the ocean so that data could be collected on species performance in restricted sunlight, and biospherian proficiency in complex ecosystems.

The agricultural biome was clearly going to be the most difficult and essential area, so parts of it went on stream first, in the fall of 1989, followed by the wilderness biomes, and lastly the Human Habitat, where much more experience was available. All the biomes except the Habitat were on go and tested in the winter of 1990-1991 to see if the light experiment was viable or whether we would have to install major artificial light set-ups. Surprisingly, even the ocean corals did well with the half of the winter sunlight that came through the glass and spaceframe structure. (Of course, as the structure was not yet fully sealed, the carbon dioxide levels remained near ambient.)

By June 1, 1991, Margret Augustine, SBV’s CEO, said the buildings, energy center, apparatuses, and biospherians would be ready by late September. Could R and D agree that the Biosphere would be ready to operate as a total system by then ? We thought it could and would. SBV dared not delay the closure past September 26 because of decreasing levels of sunlight which could force postponement of closure till March 1 the following year .

Another major factor was the biospherian crew morale; a half year delay added on to their two year hitch would be a mighty blow. On September 26, two months of fairly good solar radiation remained for Biosphere 2 to ready itself to confront the winter solstice low light levels and the possibility of the “storm of the century.” El Nino did in fact blow in and gave Biosphere 2 a little more of a test than was desired.

Nevertheless, Biosphere 2′s countdown testing had to be thorough and severe, and all systems would have to be quadruple-checked by SBV, by our contractors, by consultants, and by the biospherians – before SBV would allow the closure to proceed. The following testing procedure was set up in June and carried out:

July 13-18: the eight biospherians begin testing as a team working daily inside Biosphere 2. They would from now to closure operate the ecosystems while managing their final design refinements and expansions, with technical and scientific help as needed. The crew commenced eating from the agricultural sys- tem produce, gradually increasing this amount until they had made a complete switch over. The Mission Rules including reports, operating manuals, and detailed overall maintenance procedures commenced being refined to final form. Firefighting and electric power systems checked out.

For each of the next following five day periods a new technical subsystem would go on stream, be checked out and tested, and biospherians familiarized with its operations: July 18-23, Airhandling systems; July 23-28, Water systems; July 28-August 3, Analytic system; August 3-9, Computer systems.

August 9-15. Critique of previous tests. Identifying the total parameters of the system for time zero, including finalizing mapping the location of every plant.

August 15-22. Mission Control team and the biospherian crew operate daytime simulation of closure conditions for Biosphere 2.

August 16-28. Critiques area by area, positive and negative feedbacks, improvements.

August 28-September 4. Biospherians full live-in, practicing operating Biosphere 2. Exits and entrances of all additional workers through the airlock recorded so that the first sealed system carbon dioxide measurements could be taken and com- pared against predictions. Soil respiration in the newer wilder- ness areas was still running higher than its mature rate. It might be four or five months before the soil respiration fell to its stable level in the wilderness. Decision was made to protect the ocean with a small carbon dioxide recycler that would take up an estimated 20% of the soil respiration for the first winter solstice period, in addition the active period in the savannah would definitely be extended to keep the C02 in the low 3000′ s where the coral reef losses should be minimal, if they did occur .

September 4 -11. Critiques, feedbacks, improvements.

September 12-19. Run as if the two year experiment. The second week of closed system carbon dioxide data taken followed predictions based on the first week’s data. Confidence in the system grew because of the replicability of the data.

September 19-26. Critiques. Feedbacks. Biospherians move into Biosphere 2, running the total system, final technical finishes. Emergency evacuation tests in case of biospherian injury. Improvements. Time for the biospherians’ families to visit, and for them to finish putting their affairs in order. Final decision to go ahead was made on September 24; biospherians and Mission Control confident, yet realizing the first four to five months was going to be an all-out voyage.

By January 9, one hundred and five days after closure, SBV announced in a press release that all the key operating systems were on satisfactory go, the ocean was flourishing, and the carbon dioxide would be operating at predicted levels (below 2000) for most of the year. The carbon dioxide recycler was turned off on January 15 after forty-five days continuous operation. The carbon dioxide average dropped to below 2000 shortly thereafter due to increasing light and decreasing soils respiration as they matured. The biospherians had used up ten days of stored calories by then, but the agriculture had produced nearly ninety percent of the consumed calories to the end of December and by January had begun producing a small surplus. The biospherians were accomplishing it all on an average fifty-six hour work week including preparing the meals.

Detailed work leading to a refined modeling of the carbon cycle has begun. A meeting with key members of the Scientific Advisory Comrnittee, headed by Tom Lovejoy, the rainforest systems ecologist, and including Gerald Soffen, project scientist for Viking; Steve O’Brien, the evolutionary geneticist; and Bob Walsh former Vice-President of Research and Development for Allegheny-Ludlum Steel, among others, was held on February 9 and 10 this month. They began to design a program for SBV which will relate the research data of Biosphere 2 with a spectrum of scientific disciplines.

A major international workshop will be held on the Biosphere 2 site from April 24-27, focusing on two major areas: carbon dynamics and modeling in closed ecological systems; and biospherics -issues of common concern for small man-made systems, ecosystem ecology , and the planetary biosphere. Scientific and engineering groups from nearly fifty countries have visited the site since 1986, dozens of them from Japan. Japan’s Committee to study Biosphere 2 has been in existence for two years, and this January the Japanese Ministry of Science and Technology announced construction by 1995 of a closed system seven times larger in area than SBV’s Test Module, “Biosphere J”. Dr .Gitelson plans an expanded BIOS project. Closed systems at or near biospheric scales have become an integral part of the world of science in the U.S., Russia, and Japan.

Biosphere 2 and biospherics are critically important because we humans need guidelines that will allow us to make technical innovations life enhancing, as well as pleasurable and profitable. We must gain the knowledge that will enable damage caused to the biosphere by unforeseen spin-offs of our commerce to be quickly repaired.

Human society, of course, is not identical with the biosphere; our development demands special laws relating to justice and progress not observable in other parts of the biosphere. However, these socio- economic laws must not clash with laws of the biosphere; otherwise, the biosphere can “impose a veto” on us for mistreating it. We must learn and spell out these biospheric laws so that our human legislators will treat them as riders to their social constitutions just as they now treat engineering codes on strength of materials and the safety of airplanes.

Astronautics and biospherics must begin to work out a partnership to make a conceptual design to carry out the mission to understand planet Earth’s biosphere, and to achieve human destinies in our larger home, the solar system.

 

References

1. Allen, J., Biosphere 2: The Human Experiment, Viking/Penguin, NY,1991, 156pp.

2. Allen, I., Nelson,M., Space Biospheres, Synergetic Press, London/Tucson, 1986. Revised Ed., 1989.

3. Dempster, W. F., Biosphere n: Technical Overview of a Manned Closed Ec0logical System. SAE Technical Paper 891599, 19th Intersociety Conference On Environmental Systems, 1989.

4. Dempster, W.F., Biosphere n: Closed Ecological Systems Engineering. Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space n. Proceedings of Space 90, Subsection 4.2: Life Supporl Systems, pp. 1206-1215, American Society of Civil Engineers, Apri11990.

5. Nelson, M., Allen, I., Dempster, W., Biosphere 2: A Prototype Project for a Permanent and Evolving Life System for a Mars Base, COSPAR XXVI11 Plenary Meeting, June 1990, Paper Identification No. MF 1.4.6.

6. Wolverton, B. C., Aquatic Plant/Microbial Filters for Treating Septic Tank Effluent, pp. 173-178 in: Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment, Donald A. Hammer, Lewis Publishers, 1989. Proceedings from the First International Conference on Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment, Chattanooga, Tennessee, June 1988.