The interior of Biosphere 2, landscaped with five different ecosystems, epitomized a dream vacation rather than a facility to help acclimate future space colonists to the Martian atmosphere.
If any one of the eight participants wanted to vacation in a tropical paradise he, or she, could cross a threshold into the 0.47 acre tropical rain forest, or enter through another door for a trip to the seaside, and bask in the sunshine on the shore of a 0.21 acre ocean, complete with a coral reef to explore. A short distance from the ocean, one could saunter through a 0.111 acre mangrove wetland to arrive in a 0.321 acre savannah. If a sub tropic grassland wasn’t to their liking, another short jaunt, took them to a fog desert, likened to Baja California.
However vacation-like this contrived biosphere seemed, the brutal reality of survival kept them occupied on the 0.618 acre enclosed farm field where they produced 83% of their diet. The ultramodern living quarters provided a state of the art kitchen, offices and a laboratory.
On September 26, 1991, eight close friends entered the facility and sealed themselves from the outside world with the intent of observing the chemical dynamics of the water, soil and air. Not long after their confinement commenced, oxygen levels began to sea-saw out of control. After 16 months, levels plummeted to the equivalent of the same oxygen levels available at an altitude of 13,400 feet.
Concrete, tons of concrete, including the artificial rock designed into the landscape, sucked the oxygen from the enclosed atmosphere, contributing to the process of prolonged suffocation.to be continued . . . Next week’s episode: Friends forever?—-NOT!