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Biosphere 2

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Biosphere 2 is a unique architectural structure built on 3.14 acres out in the Arizona desert. It was built in the late 1980s as a model for self-sustaining human space-colonization of the Moon, and maybe beyond. This large closed ecological system was named “Biosphere 2” because it was attempting to be a scaled down version of Earth, aka Biosphere 1.

Biosphere 2 is divided into 7 biomes: Rainforest, Savanna, Ocean, Marsh, Desert, Intensive Agriculture, and Human Habitat. Underneath the Savanna and the 2 Lungs (and buried under the rest of the property) is the Technosphere, called that because it's where all the electrical, plumbing, mechanical, air management, and other technological systems are housed.

In 1995, I did my high school senior science paper on Biosphere 2 and other closed ecological systems. Over the Summer of 1998, I was one of 11 students across the USA selected to participate in student research opportunities offered at Biosphere 2! I was thrilled by the opportunity to work at the premier facility designed to support human space exploration! My main project was to map the light environment in the Intensive Agricultural biome (IAB) and study the growth of Cottonwood plants in the IAB. I also assisted related projects in mapping other biomes, and measuring the effects of CO2 levels on a single plant. The results of my main project were used to adjust data in the 5-year-long experiment.

I built the Biosphere 2 out of LEGO as a way to combine two of my lifelong passions - LEGO and Space Exploration - with pieces of my own past. Having been inside for 10 weeks, I wanted to capture as much of the real Biosphere 2 as possible in my LEGO model. However, the 3,000 piece upper limit meant I had to leave out: the Technosphere; the top level of the Rainforest biome; the bottom level of the Desert biome; the river that runs from the former to the latter; the two large domed Lungs of Biosphere 2; the "mountain", waterfall, and plants in the Rainforest biome; and all details of the Human Habitat that was turned into research labs. Still, I was able to capture the feel of the real Biosphere 2. I even have the Rainforest biome and Human Habitat elevated compared to the Desert biome and IAB, respectively. In the real Biosphere 2, this elevation difference is, so the river naturally flows downhill through 4 of the biomes.

I believe this LEGO Biosphere 2 build is both a visual masterpiece for display and, if done properly, could be interactive! I put the current Welcome sign for Biosphere 2 to the left side of the Human Habitat. I included one palm tree in the Rainforest biome, a beach leading to the water in the Ocean biome, some water patches and plants in the Marsh biome, the Savanna / Thorn scrub biome is properly elevated and has plants, and there is a large cactus and a small cactus in the Desert biome. If you look closely, you might even see a microfigure that came to visit! For convenience of set up and moving, my LEGO Biosphere 2 model easily separates into 5 pieces.