RE: Biosphere?

Billy Brown (
Thu, 10 Jun 1999 00:33:50 -0500

On Wednesday, June 09, 1999 11:43 PM, Spike Jones [] wrote:
> Thanks for bringing this up Emlyn. I hope everyone who speculates
> about a humaned mission to Mars will review the findings of the great
> Biosphere experiment. It is actually shocking to see how much mass
> and volume is evidently needed to keep even one person alive for
> extended periods of time in a closed system. I was quite discouraged
> when, with *aaaaall thaaaaat stuuuuuffff*, they *stilll* had a hell of a
> time. {8-[ spike

Well, you should keep in mind that Biosphere was more of an ideological stunt than a serious engineering effort. They were trying to build a closed _ecology_, while all we need for space missions is a closed life support system. We don't need a zillion difffirent kinds of plants, bugs and whatnot, we don't need 'natural' landscaping, and we sure as heck don't need multiple environments. Besides, the idea of doing all the cultivation by hand is stupid - if you can't mechanize it somehow, you're never going to get anything else done.

A realistic effort would take a completely different approach. A lot of the basic air and water recycling can be handled by conventional mechanical systems, so do it that way. Maintain a garden (part conventional, part hydroponic) for growing food crops, and use processed sewage as fertilizer. Take along equipment for manufacturing fertilizers from local materials, and you're set. This is still a pretty big setup, but it isn't anywhere near as bad as Biosphere.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I