"Biospheric Theory and Report on Overall Biosphere 2 Design and Performance During Mission One, 1991–1993" Allen, John (1996)

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"Biospheric Theory and Report on Overall Biosphere 2 Design and Performance During Mission One, 1991–1993"
John Allen (1996)

URL: http://www.biospheres.com (click Keynote Papers link, then title link)

SITE SUMMARY: Allen, an engineer with academic credentials in metallurgical-mining engineering and engineering physiology, invented and was cofounder of the Biosphere 2 facility, and was part of the team of scientists, engineers and architects who designed and operated the Biosphere Project and Experiment. Biosphere 2 was designed and built to simulate, but not duplicate, Biosphere One—Earth, and test the hypothesis that biospheres are materially closed but biologically open self-sustaining systems, and capable of long-term self-renewal. This document, first published in the Journal of Life Support and Biosphere Science, provides, in two parts, a detailed definition of biospheric theory, plus details on the Biosphere 2 Project, including decisions on what should be done, how decisions were made, the research team's preliminary studies, and analyses based on outcomes after the participating team's experiences in various created biomes such as a desert and a rain forest. The potential and value of biospherics in evaluating changes in Earth's biosphere and in designing planetary settlements was also discussed.


  1. Name and describe the "three major component parts" which are essential in the study of biospherics.
  2. Which three things must interplay so testing and extending knowledge of biospherics can occur, as was the approach used to create Biosphere 2?
  3. In addition to "fundamental scientific disciplines," which other "bodies of knowledge and sources of insight" should be considered when evaluating biospherics? Can you think of others? Explain why each type is important. How did mission participants apply these others?
  4. Identify the scientists who wrote about biospheric theory in 1926, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1983, 1979, 1989, and the 1990s. What did the scientist Vladimir Vernadsky write about biospherics? Select another scientist. What did she or he determine about biospherics? How did the statements by Vernadsky and the other scientist influence the Biosphere 2 mission? Option for class: Each student should choose one of the biospheric scientists other than the one chosen to answer the questions just above, then reveal that scientist's influence on the mission, quoting if possible. (Note: Students can provide information by creating an audio- or videotape to be presented to the class or by writing a report to be read or reproduced and distributed to the class.)
  5. Through history, what have theories been on biospherics and space exploration? What has been NASA's reaction to biospheric studies? Refer to Allen's paper, and to information at the Web sites Advanced Life Support at the KSC and Advanced Life Support at the JSC. Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.
  6. What is "a Biospheric Uncertainty Principle," and Vernadsky's definition of a noosphere?
  7. At first, an agricultural biosphere re-creation was considered for the project. What was good about this idea? Why was it rejected? What type of biosphere was then chosen for the project, and why? What became clear from biospheric test module work by Margret Augustine, William Dempster, John Allen, Abigail Alling, and Mark Nelson, and why? What became the five basic aims and the main objective of the experiment? Name six of the sixty research project studies done during the mission. Identify four "spin-off ideas" that have come from this biosphere project. Give details for one. Suggest how one spin-off idea has an influence on you and/or the world around you.
  1. What two essential things of life are needed, and in what proportions, in a biosphere re-creation, according to analyses of the mission? Make a plan to create a biosphere project, giving both scale model and actual size details. Be sure to include what is referred to in Questions/Activities nos. 1 and 3 above, and study information about the test module. (Tip: For some help, go to the Students' Corner at the Web site for Spreading Life Throughout the Solar System. Its url is cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Option: Make an actual mini biosphere based on your plan.




Links go to information on the history of biospherics, definitions, keynote papers, biographies of key people, ongoing research and development, a bibliography, the Journal of Life Support and Biosphere Science, and related links. Note especially the Biosphere 2 Experiment, Results and Papers; Biosphere 2 Plans and Photos; "Biosphere 2: Research Past and Present" in the Journal of Ecological Engineering; and an in-progress area of Papers of Ongoing Work Since Biosphere 2, featuring overall assessments with quotations from noted people.

Biosphere 2 Center—Columbia University—Laboratory Research Programs


Read the overview, and see the links to the B2 Laboratory, and to particular biomes such as a desert, a rain forest, and agro forestry. Note also the link to information on the Future of the Biosphere 2L Mission, and more.

Biospheric Sciences Branch of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


Find out about NASA's biospheric studies on this page that features information on goals and vision, plus links to an outline, highlights, programs, publications, scientists, and related Web sites.

"Spreading Life Throughout the Solar System"


Information on the goals and basics of a strategic plan of NASA's HEDS (Human Exploration and Development of Space Enterprise) is provided. The site also features information for students to help them design a space colony or settlement biosphere structure in a space station as a class activity and as an entry for NASA's space colony student design contest. Note also links to a Students' Corner, a Teachers' Page, a Quiz, Online Space Settlement Books, Space Settlement Contest Guidelines, Other Space Settlement Web Sites (e.g., Biosphere 2 and Biosphere 2 FAQ), and Miscellaneous (such as "Isaac Asimov on Space Settlement" and Space Settlement Papers such as "A Futurist Perspective for Space" in PDF format).

"Advanced Life Support and Gravitational Biology" at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

http://bioscience.ksc.nasa.gov/oldals/index.html or http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/index/index.html (click link under Special Purposes Pages)

Featured are links to information on biospherics (identified as "advanced life support and gravitational biology"). Also provided are a definition of "advanced life support and gravitational biology" and links to other Web sites with useful data.

"Advanced Life Support" at NASA's Johnson Space Center


This in progress site provides data on advanced life support (ALS), plus more information and documents via links for What's New, General Information, BioPlex Documents ("Bioregenerative Planetary Life Support Systems Test Complex"), SIMA Reports ("Systems Integration, Modeling, and Analysis"), and ALS Related Sites.

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"Biospheric Theory and Report on Overall Biosphere 2 Design and Performance During Mission One, 1991–1993" Allen, John (1996)

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"Biospheric Theory and Report on Overall Biosphere 2 Design and Performance During Mission One, 1991–1993" Allen, John (1996)