Mountains and microbes and Mars!

Why does Biosphere 2 not sport an alpine environment, or a polar environment? That would be a lot of fun. I mean, if you’re going for rainforest, ocean, desert, savanna… what’s the next epic, exotic ecosystem to include? Mountains, clearly.

(For those of you not fortunate enough to have visited the large, glass structure outside Tucson, it’s a combination space fantasy and tree fort for scientists. Originally constructed as a venture to practice colonizing Mars, it now houses a host of interesting and interdisciplinary science research projects. I have never been bored there. They have pretty cool faculty and outreach fellows, as well.)

Well, if the researchers there don’t have simulated high alpine environments in which to grow mountain microbes, they have to send mountaineers out to collect samples. One of my favorite new finds online is Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. This organization partners accomplished mountaineers like Lonnie Dupre with Biosphere 2 researchers like Dr. Dragos George Zaharescu to collect those samples.

This project sounds like the classic search for new knowledge and new places as captured by Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s chronicle of his adventures in Antarctica a hundred years ago:

“And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore.”

I can only aspire to inspire as many explorers of science and the earth and space as have Cherry-Garrard and Dupre.

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