15. Results: Mission Two

Oracle, AZ -Twenty days and counting… On March 6 at 10 a.m., an international crew of six individuals from five countries will enter Biosphere 2 under new scheduling procedures. March 6 commences a new phase of the experiment which will mark the last formal “closure” in putting a new crew inside the three acre glass-and-steel complex. The new procedures will enable various visiting scientists to conduct research for designated periods of time within controlled laboratory conditions in a way not possible before.

Baseline operations will be managed by a rotating technical and resident crew which will enable various visiting scientists, managers, technical personnel and environmentalists to utilize Biosphere 2 facilities for short term durations. During the first 120 days, the resident crew will include Norberto Alvarez-Romo, Vice resident of Mission Control, and Director of Cybernetic Systems as the Biosphere 2’s first visiting manager. At the third and sixth month intervals, a physician will perform a “house call” checkup visit on all persons inside. After the initial stay of Alvarez-Romo, other scientific, technical or environmental visitors will be eligible to enter Biosphere 2 for periods which will vary in duration.

Alvarez-Romo will establish and implement the protocols for the Biosphere 2 laboratory. He will also focus on enhancing the systems required for a “paperless society” (e.g. computer hardware, software, and communication systems). As the first “visiting participant,” he will work with the staff of Mission Control to work out details for shorter term participants.

Unlike the initial two-years, there will not always be a resident physician inside Biosphere 2. Resident crew health monitoring and maintenance is being supervised by Harvey Meislin, MD, Professor and Chief, Section of Emergency Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center and his staff. The resident crew includes an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) who monitors the crew’s vital signs weekly. Dr. Meislin will go inside Biosphere 2 at three-month intervals to conduct medical examinations.

Dr. John B. Corliss, Director of Research at Biosphere 2, says, “Biosphere 2 is a laboratory of the 21st Century. It changes the traditional view of a laboratory,” he says. “There has never been a vast sealed structure in which to study scientifically how life on the earth operates as a total system and how human participation affects it.”

The Ceremony & Press Conference

Dr. Stephen J. Gould, paleontologist, evolutionist, and Professor of Zoology at Harvard University, and member of the National Academy of Sciences will join SBV Chairman of the Board Edward P. Bass and SBV President & CEO Margret Augustine at the ceremony beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Biosphere 2 Facts

Since September 26, 1991, Biosphere 2 has been maintained as a closed system. Researchers, technicians and operators entered and exited the facility through the airlock chamber during transition (September 26, 1993 -March 6, 1994) to complete research programs, make necessary technical systems changes, and to operate the Biosphere. The atmosphere of Biosphere 2 was not exchanged with the outside atmosphere.

From trace gas measurements of the atmosphere from May 1992 to August 1993, the leak rate set a world record low leak rate for a large closed ecological system, 30 times lower than the Space Shuttle leaks.

Environmental technology is currently being developed based upon what has been learned inside Biosphere 2. A new product, an air purifer called the Airtron, may help alleviate health problems associated with indoor air pollution, especially symptoms related to what is known as sick building syndrome. A Wastetron is another product being developed, based upon the recycling systems in Biosphere 2.

Biosphere 2 recycles all human and animal wastes. This is the first time complete waste recycling has been accomplished in a biological life support system.

Biosphere 2 recycles all its water using a sophisticated system with over 20 subsystems. This maintained the wide diversity of water quality required –from the saltwater of ocean and marsh systems, to the rainwater needed by rainforest, Savannah, desert, and farm –to the high purity levels required in drinking water.

The rainforest has more than doubled in size –some trees increased over 400 percent in biomass since original planting in 1990.

Corals reproduced during the first two years and 87 baby coral colonies were identified during the five month transition.

During the transition, hundreds of measuring devices were installed to provide detailed records of trace gases in the air, temperatures and moisture levels in the soil and growth rates of plants.

Forty geckos and fifty toads were imported, and as planned, have cut back the cockroach population as part of Biosphere 2’s non-toxic pest management program.




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