O2 or not O2


“Balinesisches Treibhaus” in the “Gärten der Welt

In the recent randform blogpost “How much O2 will there be left” I was raising again the question to which extend climate change could lead to a regression of global O2. The blogpost referred to an older blog post in which experiments with the space colonization were described. In this older blogpost I recalled that

I think to remember that the original intention was to to have people stay for longer than just a summer, as a Mars exploration would take longer than that – but may be I am wrong. I remember that one mission had to be aborted for two reasons: Firstly the air supply had to be reenforced due to a miscalculation of the air consumption of bacteria in the soil of the greenhouse and secondly due to complicated group dynamics.

Today there was a description of a space colonization experiment called biosphere 2 on Spiegel Online. And alone by looking at the images I am now pretty sure that it was a report about this space colonization experiment that I had seen on TV and not the Mars Analogue Research Station Programme as I had wrongly thought in the older randform post. But it seems I correctly remembered that there was a problem of the regression of oxygen (and the group dynamics). The decrease in oxygen seems to have been partially due to microbes in the soil. At least the Wikipedia article about biosphere 2 mentions:

Many suspected the drop in oxygen was due to microbes in the soil. The soils were selected to have enough carbon to provide for the plants of the ecosystems to grow from infancy to maturity, a plant mass increase of perhaps 20 tons (18,000 kg).[21] The release rate of that soil carbon as carbon dioxide by respiration of soil microbes was an unknown that the Biosphere 2 experiment was designed to reveal.

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