Biospherics is the study of Self-Sustaining Ecosystems. From the Institute of Ecotechnics:

 “Biospherics differs from systems ecology in that it deals with materially closed systems and thus complete biogeochemical cycling. Biospheres, as a class of objects to study, are defined as energetically open, materially closed life systems, natural or artificial, and capable of long-term self-renewal under the proper conditions.”

Facilities & Organizations

Biosphere 2

The largest closed system ever created, this 3.14 acre habitat was designed to conduct experiments on the feasibility of artificial self-sustaining ecosystems. Contained multiple biomes (rainforest, coral reef, savannah, etc). Experimented with prolonged human survival inside the dome, completely sealed off from the outside.

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Inside Biosphere 2: Earth Science Under Glass

The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty Minutes Inside Biosphere 2

Mark Nelson Discusses Life in Biosphere 2 (Video)


Bios 1, 2, and 3

A series of closed-system experiments conducted at the Institute of Biophysics in what was the Soviet Union. 

Experiments primarily focused on using algae as an oxygen source for cosmonauts.

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Institute of Ecotechnics

The Institute of Ecotechnics develops models to work with complex dynamics of biospherics, technics, and cultures. Consultancy activities have included scientific co-ordination of the ground-breaking Biosphere 2 project, and the setting-up of wastewater recycling systems in desert, tropics, and savannah worldwide.

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The Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (MELiSSA) is a European Space Agency initiative (ESA) with the aim to develop the technology for a future regenerative life support system for long term human space missions. Initiated in 1989, the design is inspired by a terrestrial ecosystem. Today MELiSSA is a consortium made up of 30 organisations across Europe.

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Mars On Earth®

The Mars On Earth® project is an ecological habitat that is designed to support humans on Mars but is located here, on Earth. This simulation of a sustainable biospheric life support base designed for Mars will be fine-tuned here on Earth so that it can be replicated on Mars. The closed life support  systems will provide the necessary “test bed” for developing ecological space-based systems for water and wastewater recycling, food production, and air purification.

Conducted inside the Laboratory Biosphere.

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Laboratory Biosphere

The Laboratory Biosphere Experimental Chamber is a custom designed cylindrical steel chamber, measuring 12 feet in diameter and 12 feet in length.

The Laboratory Biosphere was designed and built by the Biosphere Foundation, Biospheric Design, and the Institute of Ecotechnics. It is now owned and operated by Biospheric Design, a division of Global Ecotechnics Corporation.

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Important Contributors

Vladimir Vernadsky

Vladimir Vernadsky, a Russian mineralogist and geochemist, authored the book The Biosphere which established the field of biogeochemistry and set the stage for biospherics.

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John P. Allen

John Polk Allen (born 6 May 1929) is a systems ecologist and engineer, metallurgist, adventurer and writer. He is best known as the inventor and Director of Research of Biosphere 2, the world’s largest laboratory of global ecology, and was the founder of Synergia Ranch.

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Mark Nelson

Mark Nelson (born 1947) is an American ecologist and author based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His research focuses on closed ecological system research, ecological engineering, restoration of damaged ecosystems, and wastewater recycling. The founding director of the Institute of Ecotechnics in 1973, Nelson was one of the eight original crew members of Biosphere 2 in 1991 and served as the Director of Earth and Space Applications for the project until 1994.

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Peer-Reviewed Manuscripts






If you can’t access the linked article due to a paywall, try using Sci-Hub. Sci-Hub is a site that makes articles accessible to everyone without paying. Publishers like to charge upwards of $30 simply to read a manuscript (though the scientists and authors gain no royalties). Sci-Hub bypasses these restrictions, and as such is constantly being litigated. The URL for the site changes frequently. Check its Wikipedia page for currently operational ones.