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In 1984, Space Biospheres Ventures purchased a few unassuming acres north of Tucson in the shadow the Santa Catalina Mountains. There, the company expanded its sci-fi-sounding activities—the development of space-colonization technology—and built what would evolve into Biosphere 2, recently seen on The Today Show.
Designed to re-create Earth's ecosystems, the gigantic glass enclosure (some 7.2 million cubic feet and 91 feet tall in some parts) is famous for housing biospherians in the 1990s. The researchers lived completely sealed inside for extended periods, giving scientists groundbreaking data on human survivability and interaction with particular bionetworks.
The University of Arizona had the 40-acre Biosphere 2 campus donated in 2011, maintaining it as a hub of serious research while expanding its mission to encompass interactive educational outreach. Each year, thousands pass through the on-site labs and classrooms as well as stroll the Biosphere 2 interior to view films, experience multimedia exhibits, or embark on guided tours. Tours venture into the actual ecosystems, allowing earthlings to note biodiversity, smell fresh precipitation in the rain forest, and savor the softness of savannah grassland underfoot until the resident grumpy old man yells at you to get the heck off his lawn. Before their dramatic conclusion at a million-gallon ocean tank, tours delve into the basement to explore the technosphere, where visitors can witness the deep inhales and exhales of the sphere’s respiratory system.