When it comes to naming biospheres, Earth is of course number one. It is through the continuation and ongoing regeneration of life that defines a biosphere.
The 1990’s saw the project Biosphere 2 come along where a totally closed off glass building with airlocks and everything was tried out by a strange group with a lot of money. The mission was to study biomes as well as act as a trial for long term space missions.
The first 2 year mission didn’t go as planned. Instead of being entirely closed off as planned, an injured crew member was allowed to leave and return with at least some plastic bags. And something went wrong with the oxygen. It dropped over time so some oxygen was pumped in. Also carbon dioxide levels would fluctuate wildly.
The second mission was only supposed to last 10 months. Only a month in, two members of the first crew vandalized the project from the outside. They opened a double airlock door and three single door emergency exits. They smashed some of the glass as well. It is estimated that 10% of the biosphere’s air was exchanged with the outside.
Basically the two missions of Biosphere 2 were unsuccessful. We did not find that we could make a substitute for Earth’s biosphere, or Biosphere 1.
So now, instead of being safely nestled on Earth, Mars One (the one way trip to Mars) will try Biosphere 3 with lives on the line. And unlike the unsuccessful 2 year Biosphere 2 attempt, the mission will last as long as the lives of its crew which could easily be seventy or eighty years.
And must I reiterate that there is a Biosphere 4? Mars itself might be a working biosphere about which we know next to nothing. Before contaminating it with Earth life shouldn’t we study it? To maybe find out how it works or whether our different biospheres can be made to coexist.
Biospheres 3 and 4 could both die because of Mars One. Without at least showing one demonstration of a working biosphere, Biosphere 3 could be thought of as a slow homicide. The failure of Biosphere 4 or Mars might be even worse than genocide, perhaps we could call it an ecocide. The rush rush nature of Mars One means that there is little time and little will to hammer out rules about the preservation of Mars. More study makes sense.