Christian Long

Jane Poynter: Life in Biosphere 2

In TED Talks on April 16, 2010 at 9:03 am

Reflection by SARAH C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Jane Poynter:  Life in Biosphere 2

Not many people can say they have lived in two biospheres. Jane Poynter is one of the few that can say she has.

Biosphere 2 is much like the Earth’s biosphere: it has a rain forest, a beach,a desert, a 1/2 acre farm, and a human habitat, but all in about 3 acres. The second biosphere was built in 1991.   The Biosphere is sealed so nothing can get in or out. the purpose of the biosphere was because they wanted to know if they took a biosphere to Mars, could they survive in it. They also wanted to know so they could understand Earth better.

On top of the biosphere is where their rain forest and ocean was located but underneath was the “techno-sphere” which is where they had there pumps, valves, water tank, and their air handles. Most of their meals consisted of sweet potatoes. They ate so many sweet potatoes Jane stated ” I became orange with sweet potatoes.”

But as it turned out, they were losing oxygen and CO2. so they started to grow their plants faster, trying to take the carbon out of the atmosphere. they stopped irrigating soil but the oxygen was still going down faster then the CO2 was going up. They lost seven tons of oxygen and they had no clue where it was all going. they went from 21% down to 14.2%. Because of the lack of oxygen they were suffering from sleep apnea.

Jane was terrified, but she know at anytime, she could walk out of the airlock doors.

They got to the point where they had to put more oxygen in the biosphere.

It turned out that the oxygen was in the concrete. They had put to much carbon in the soil in the form of compost.  After 2 years living in the biosphere, it was time to return home.  “Everyone ran up to me and I recoiled. They stink! People stink!” In Biosphere 2, they wanted to know how small they could make a biosphere. They managed to produce the first oragaism to go through a complete multiple life cycle in space.

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