Biosphere Lessons Can Be Applied To Space, Former Crew Co-Captain Says

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The experiences of the team of scientists who lived in the Biosphere 2 closed system from 1991 to 1993 can be applied to space travel, according to Sally Silverstone, co-captain of the crew.

Long-term space missions will require life support systems similar to the steel and glass structure north of Tucson, Ariz., where eight scientists lived for two years, Silverstone said.

Silverstone spoke at symposium on future directions in space life science research at a meeting of the Space and Underwater Research Group of the World Federation of Neurology here today. The meeting is being coordinated by the Stroke Research Center of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Biosphere 2 was sealed and open only to sunlight. The structure had systems that provided water, food, air regeneration, and waste water recycling.

Inside Biosphere 2, a half-acre cropping area produced enough food to meet about 80 percent of the crew's nutritional needs, she said. Biosphere 2 also contained a rain forest, a million-gallon ocean with a coral reef, a desert, a savanna, a marsh, 3,800 species of plants and animals, as well as living quarters for the crew of four men and four women.

In future space travel such as a base on another planet, similar "biospheres" may be used that would have a closed environment open to energy from the sun. As with Biosphere 2, nothing but ambiant light could pass through the barrier, requiring the base to provide the atmosphere, water and nutrients to keep the operators of the base going.

About one fourth of the crew's time was spent on managing the agricultural fields. Food preparation took 12 percent of the crew's time and animal care took 9 percent of their time.

Silverstone spoke about the future research specifications for long-term missions, as well. The whole basic concept ha

Contact: Robert Conn
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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