With Mars the closest it's been in almost 60,000 years, planning a manned trip to the "red planet" seems alluringly close. In fact, projects are underway for evaluating the feasibility of such a trip at a 12-by-12-ft research facility in New Mexico. The Laboratory Biosphere Project in Santa Fe, NM, is a unique research project looking into the possibilities of growing and sustaining food crops to support long-term space and planetary missions.
The Laboratory Biosphere Experimental Chamber is a cylindrical steel vessel with an internal capacity of 1,200 cubic ft. It is connected to a variable volume chamber (the "lung") which, depending on temperature and humidity conditions within the total system, varies in volume between zero and 400 cubic ft. This gives a total volume for both chamber and lung together of between 1,200 and 1,600 cubic ft.