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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tourist attraction to become research hotbed

    University administrators and researchers revealed their plans to begin research within the Biosphere 2 yesterday.

    Located near Oracle, the 3.14-acre Biosphere 2 facility will serve as a new laboratory that will house numerous “”think tanks,”” said regents professor Pierre Meystre.

    Meystre will be involved in gathering information about broad scientific issues, including global warming, by bringing together researchers from around the globe.

    Research is expected to begin in July, he said.

    “”Usually in our university environment, we don’t talk to people as much as we should,”” he said. “”So we will bring people together from different fields to learn from one another and take into account problems such as renewable energy and global warming.””

    Equipped with 28 fully furnished houses that each has three to five bedrooms, the facility provides a great environment for researchers to fully immerse themselves in their work, Meystre said.

    A study titled B2 Earthscience will be led by UA professor Travis Huxley and will study global environment change, Meystre said.

    Biosphere 2 was once used for an experiment that required participants to stay within the subterranean, controlled-climate facility for two years.

    This time around, collaborating individuals may meet for weeks or for months, depending on the amount of research involved.

    “”Since we just got the first lease, we will have a variety of meetings to see what (length) works best,”” Meystre said.

    Biosphere 2 has been leased for only $100 a year, said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science.

    Some of the initial research conducted at Biosphere 2 will address global climate change and be funded entirely by a donor, Ruiz said.

    Aside from using Biosphere 2 for think tanks, researchers will also use the laboratory as a place to study astrobiology and hold public lectures, Meystre said.

    “”This is an incredible facility,”” he said. “”It really is a great new tool not only for the university, but for Tucson.””

    The UA will also run Biosphere 2’s public tours, which have drawn about 2.3 million people since 1991, according to a university press release.

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