When we realized how close we were staying to Biosphere 2, it immediately moved up on our radar as a must see attraction. Originally built to test environmental changes in a closed environment, this complex still remains the largest closed system ever built and while the closure experiment phases have passed, it still remains an important research facility. When we mentioned to Outside our Bubble we were visiting, they decided to join us, although I don’t think they were as enthralled as we were.
Biosphere 2 was a huge deal in the early 90′s, when a group of 8 people lived for two years without re-entering the outside world (save one ER visit according to our guide). Oxygen levels fluctuated greatly and the different biomes went under unexpected changes. Some species died out, and others, like cockroaches, took up pollinating responsibilities. After two years, interestingly enough the biospherians fractured into two groups that no longer communicated with each other (although, depending on who I was stuck in a 3 acre site with….) There was a second mission but that ended early due to several different factors (including according to wikipedia, a deliberate breach with the outside world.)
Now, Biosphere 2 is used for research for the University of Arizona, and while major modifications have been made to the biomes and internal structure, it was still an interesting spot to visit. Some areas showed great disrepair, and the once vibrant ‘ocean’ is struggling. They no longer use the ‘lungs’ of biosphere, but we got to tour them and see how they were used to help keep up with the atmospheric expansion at the site.
Overall a pretty neat stop and while the ticket price of $20 per adult may be a little steep, we were still happy to get our science geek on & tour a one of a kind facility.