Skip to main content

'Analog astronauts' assemble in Biosphere 2 bubble to talk simulated space missions

The Biosphere 2 research facility in Oracle, Arizona.  (Image credit: Frogman1484/Getty Images)

Out in the desert in Arizona, "analog astronauts" gathered this weekend for an annual conference in a giant, futuristic habitat called Biosphere 2. 

The event, called the Analog Astronaut Conference, is an annual meetup showcasing the work of "analog astronauts," or researchers who have completed simulated space missions, living and working in habitats on Earth that mimic expected living conditions in destinations like Mars or the moon

The event took place from May 6 to May 8 at Biosphere 2, an immense research facility in Oracle, Arizona that, in the early 1990s, housed an experiment in which a team of "Biospherians" lived in the habitat for two years. 

Video: 'Spaceship Earth' tells story of 8 'visionaries' in Biosphere 2 - Trailer

But don't worry — the conference didn't lock the participants in for two years. Instead, those in attendance got a peek into what the habitat is really like; Biosphere 2 houses a number of human-created biomes including a rainforest, a coral reef, manufactured ocean and more. 

The speakers for the event included astronaut (as well as analog astronaut) Sian Proctor, who flew with SpaceX's private Inspiration4 orbital mission; architect Leszek Orzechowski, who created the LunAres Research Station, an analog habitat in Poland; space engineer Sahba El-Shawa; exploratory space artist Richelle Gribble; filmmaker and researcher Kai Staats and more. 

The event's keynote speaker was author Frank White, who is best known for his 1987 book "The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution." White coined the term "the overview effect," which is used to describe the psychological shift that humans experience when viewing Earth from space. 

Explore a full list of speakers here (opens in new tab)

In addition to panels and speakers, the event also included art and music at the event as well as stargazing with Proctor. The event also included a screening of the Space.com documentary about senior writer Chelsea Gohd's adventures as an analog astronaut titled: "Chelsea Goes to Mars." 

Disclosure: Author Chelsea Gohd participated in the planning of the Analog Astronaut Conference and is an analog astronaut, having completed an analog Mars mission in 2020 alongside other team members who helped to plan this event. Gohd is listed as a speaker for the event but, having contracted COVID-19, she was not a speaker.

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined Space.com in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.