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Outside of Tucson a giant glass sphere rises out of the desert. It's called Biosphere 2. The failed experiment in sustainable living now belongs to the University of Arizona, who use the building as a biological and climate-research facility. The Biosphere was constructed in Oracle, about a half and house outside of Tucson, between 1987 and 1991 and is still the larger enclosed system ever created. The university purchased the science research facility in 2011, turning it into a center for research, outreach teaching and lifelong learning about the planet and its systems. The 3.14-acre structure was originally built to be an artificial ecological system housing five areas based on different biomes, an agricultural area as well as spaces for residents to live and work. The first mission, in which eight crew members were enclosed in the structure, lasted two years from September 1991 to September 1993. The second mission, which began in March 1994, lasted only ten months.
The development of the Landscape Evolution Observatory is the first major renovation of Biosphere 2 since it was constructed. Scientists plan to study how water moves through mountain landscapes and how ecology and landscapes co-evolve in these unprecedented, one-million-kilogram experimental structures.