On Saturday Oct 4, I went with my sister and her beau, Em, and Deljia to Biosphere 2. I had never been there before. Deljia had worked there but had never been on the tour – now that the dome was open to the public.
It was cool. The complex is huge, with about 20 casitas on site for staff and guests, the dome, an administrative building, the welcome center, three or four other buildings, and some assorted greenhouses. The casitas were all sustainable and stuff, with rain water collectors and great UV ratings.
The tour started with a 10 minute movie about the dome and its purpose – which is to be the largest Earth sciences experiment. The first idea was to see how people could live in a sealed environment – for space travel. Then the complex changed hands and it was used to testing the environment regarding acidity. Then the U of A bought it and now it is doing a soil erosion test, and catering to tourists. The narrator for the movie was one of the scientists from the Saturn Cassini project – which is only significant in that I knew one of the scientists from that project and the two must have worked together.
The actual tour took about an hour and 10 minutes and it went all over the place – from the rain forests to the sea (which is in the process of being re-purposed into a Sea of Cortez exhibit), through the bowels of the dome, and out to the lungs – which were my favorite part. The lung is a circular building with a floating roof. When the pressure gets too great, the roof goes up, and down when the pressure falls. If the pressure gets too high, a small window would break and air would escape. It would seal itself so that the environment wouldn’t be contaminated. It was also acoustically very interesting.
After that we went to a Greek place for a lovely lunch.
Pertinent to my writing – the Biosphere 2 was like a space station. I have a space station in one of my stories, so now I have a better idea of how that setting would work. There were two notable movies filmed there: Bio-Dome and Groom Lake, where the lung was used as a space ship.