Imagine Our Story Destinations: Biosphere 2

This summer, we invite you to discover and visit the various locations on our tracker to learn more about culturally and historically significant places and landmarks in our region.

The Biosphere is one of Southern Arizona’s most famous (or infamous) destinations! The proper name is Biosphere 2, since we are all living on the original unique biosphere known as Earth. Construction began on the current facility in 1986, with the intention to research and develop self-sustaining technology for a human colony in space!

Two missions, between 1991 and 1994, sealed “Biospherians” inside the glass enclosure to investigate how we could survive in a mini-Earth on another planet. Like any complex, long-term experiment, there were unexpected problems and successes, but scientists were able to carry out unique research that expanded their knowledge of how the ecological systems of a biosphere work.

Since the mid-90’s, Biosphere 2 has been managed by many different organizations who have used it for many types of projects, but it is currently run by the University of Arizona with a focus on Project LEO (Landscape Evolution Observatory). Research at LEO will advance our understanding of how climate change may impact water resources and ecosystems in arid environments. Other fascinating projects supported by scientific teams from around the world include the Rain Forest: WALD Campaign, the Ocean Reef Lab (researching solutions to the coral reef crisis), Drylands Research, and my favorite, SAM! 

SAM stands for Space Analog for the Moon and Mars. An analog in this case is something that is similar or comparable to something else. For example, the half-acre yard they are constructing will be like a yard on Mars for pressure suit, space tool and rover testing! How cool is that? No walking Rover the dog on this yard though--this is as close as you can get to living on Mars without reducing gravity or dropping the temperature to −100°C.

For more information, check out the Biosphere 2 website, their YouTube page for amazing, behind-the-scenes videos of the geodesic dome “lungs” and more, and their Instagram page for up-to-date information on research projects, COVID 19 protocols and tour availability. Discover more about this unique, Southern Arizona destination this summer, either in person or online! 


Find out more about what's happening at the Library this summer.