The movie Biodome opens issues. Biosphere 2 is privately funded and is designed to be a for-profit venture, combining eco-tourism with the excitement of 'real-time' science and experimentation" (Nelson, 1992). A smaller pilot project, called the test module, was initially studied (Ailling et al., 1993) in the conventional engineering tradition. Based on this pilot project and an extensive review of the field of life support systems, the designers built the mesocosm with several ecosystem types including soils to provide the bioregenerative support. The design philosophy was given by Nelson et al. (1993):

Biosphere 2 ... has incorporated an approach that seeks to promote and ensure the self-organizing capabilities of living systems by deliberately replicating a typical range of tropical and subtropical environments with their associated diversity of life forms and metabolic pathways . To foster its diversity, Biosphere 2 includes many microhabitats within each ecosystem type. It was deliberately over-packed with species to provide maximal diversity for self-organization and to compensate for unknown and potentially large initial species losses. Environmental technologies provide thermal control, water and wind flows, and substitutes for natural functions like waves and rain. But the facility would not function unless the biota fulfills its essential role of using energy flow for biomass production (including food from agricultural crops) and ensuring closure of essential biogeochemical cycles through diverse metabolisms. The design of Biosphere 2, which attempts to harmonize living systems with supporting environmental technologies, unites two historical approaches to life-support systems: the engineered and the ecological.

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