Biosphere 2: A Faulty Mars Survival Test Gets a Second Act

NASA isn’t the first organization to experiment with living on Mars – in 1991 eight people sealed themselves inside a giant glass biosphere to practice space living. By the time they emerged two years later, they had “suffocated, starved and went mad.”

Biosphere 2 was a vast, greenhouse-like structure that replicated the ecosystems of “Biosphere 1” –- Earth. The inhabitants called themselves “Biospherians,” and dressed in Star Trek-like uniforms promised not to emerge for two years.

The $150 million experiment aimed to collect data with an eye to building structures to colonize space. But it quickly went awry, and led to many questions. Was this really science? Or just science fiction?

Twenty years later, the dreams that gave rise to Biosphere 2 continue…

Previous versions
At Retro Report, we update our journalism as news unfolds. Here are the previous published versions of this story.
  • Producer: Joshua Fisher
  • Producer: Sean Skelton
  • Editor: Ben Howard