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Thread: Reboot the Biosphere Project?
August 29th, 2012, 01:01 PM #1
Reboot the Biosphere Project?
A recent article in IO9.com advises that the Biosphere projects should be revived.
I agree: We have no hope to establish sustainable bases in space or on other planets unless we understand how to create a sustainable biosphere... and so far, we do not. The Biosphere experiments here and in the Soviet Union have demonstrated that we don't have the environmental, agricultural or biodiversity specs down. Further, the hardships of living in a struggling or failing biosphere space creates dysfunctional co-workers. We need to figure out the psychological and sociological needs and parameters of the crew in such a system.
Or maybe, the idea of creating an Earth-like biosphere in a place other than Earth is sheer lunacy, and we need to start thinking of systems that are totally unlike "transplanted Earth" but still sustainable.
This is an area that could use some fresh investigations and approaches in SF lit (see the "What's missing in SF" thread); I may even write one myself. Any thoughts from the gallery?
August 29th, 2012, 01:56 PM #2
Thats interesting. I'd fogotten about the Biosphere project. Perhaps it was too grandious to work right and we should start from the bottom up.
I remember seeing a glass sphere that had water, 1 plant and some kind of minor animal in it (sorry this is vague). It was claimed that as long as the sphere got normal light it would continue in equilibrium. It was sold as a novelty. [can anyone help my fading memory here as to what these are called].
Assuming I am remembering correctly perhaps we start with something like that, make it a bit bigger and add a new couple of things to it and see if it can be sustainable. Keep at this looking for where things break down. It is a lot easier debugging a small system than a large complex one and you learn things in a incremental fashion.
August 29th, 2012, 03:53 PM #3
I agree that working small and scaling up as you go would be a good way to continue the experiment... possibly even multiple parallel experiments, each investigating a different biological system/aspect, to be combined later to see how they work together. And it could be that some isolation of bio-projects is essential to their success in an artificially-closed system.
August 30th, 2012, 10:37 AM #4
Have you ever read The Biological Time Bomb?
That book covers everything from biological warfare to sending robots in space to introduce new chemistry to planets to make them more suitable for human life.
If such a biosphere was to be built for space, it would also need artificial gravity and shielding from radiation.
August 30th, 2012, 12:43 PM #5
In the case of radiation, I think investigation is not necessary, we just need to develop physical or energy-based shielding methods that will work from large structures down to space suits (or else make all EVA activity the domain of robots... not a horrible idea, but clearly less romantic than heroic astronauts on EVAs).
August 30th, 2012, 01:13 PM #6
I am working with biospheres in my series. I watched Aeon Fluxx the live action movie and The Starlost as references and I read The Biological Time Bomb years ago.
Biospheres became mandatory after World War III on Earth that was a nuclear war that ended all human life. Three military cyborgs survived the human race. They left Earth to go to an Earth-like planet in another solar system where one of the cyborgs was built. From there, they send back spaceships to Earth with cyborgs who built biospheres and cloned humans to live inside the biospheres to give the human race a second chance with one major change; the cyborgs took over world security to prevent the humans from repeating the history that ended them the first time.
So, biospheres is something I am researching myself.
August 30th, 2012, 07:20 PM #7
Another movie to use the biosphere idea is Silent Running.
August 30th, 2012, 07:58 PM #8
August 31st, 2012, 02:17 PM #9
- Join Date
- Dec 2010
you know, this probably would have been a great project for NASA to pursue planetside right now, since we seem to be earth-bound for a while (not taking into account 3rd party/national hitchhiking, of course)...
August 31st, 2012, 02:48 PM #10
I was reading an article NASA published on Google Plus that SpaceX signed a $440 Million contract with them to make the spaceship that will replace the Shuttle. The articles did not specify if SpaceX picked up the Orion project.
August 31st, 2012, 02:55 PM #11
August 31st, 2012, 05:46 PM #12
If you are interested in more advanced technologies for biospheres, there's force fields like done in The Outer Limits in the 1990s and my own ideas such as interdimensional biospheres created to exist within different wave frequencies than our physical world.
September 1st, 2012, 10:48 AM #13
Containers aren't really the problem with biospheres. The problem is successfully coordinating the biological processes and ecological balance of everything from independent animals (like men) to bacteria, and everything in-between. The more I think about it (and the lack of success we've had doing that on a planetary scale), the more I doubt our ability to maintain such a complex ecosystem.
The Biosphere projects should be dedicated to figuring out a limited-scale ecology that still sustains all biological organisms in an efficient way. It may be necessary to genetically engineer plants and animals specifically designed to function in such a limited ecosystem only, for the express purpose of providing a livable environment, and not to be "released into the wild." Their end form may be nothing like the plants and animals that exist today.
September 1st, 2012, 11:01 AM #14
The ideal system would be self .monitoring and self correcting.
Earth does not have that in place and human intervention is helping to destroy it.
Right now biosphere technology is like artificial consciousness, we just don't understand it yet. In time we will.
September 2nd, 2012, 05:39 PM #15
A Biosphere, despite its appearances, would be as artificial an environment as the inside of a space ship; just more invisibly elaborate, as complex natural elements would take place of simpler technological elements. You don't want a perfectly natural system, because it will evolve, as the Biosphere projects proved.
You want a stable and static environment... the antithesis of "natural." And you want an environment that can be adjusted to handle changes in demand... say, the loss, gain or significant change of crewmembers, the introduction (or evolution) of an invasive species, or a crop failure. Expecting a Biosphere to self-correct a system that extreme (and if you think about it, it's not that extreme) is expecting unnatural behavior in a supposedly natural system.