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One-Million-Liter Test Sphere

one-million liter test sphere, one-million liter test spheres
The One-Million-Liter Test Sphere — also known as the Test Sphere, the Horton Test Sphere, the Cloud Study Chamber, Building 527, and the “Eight Ball” or “8-ball” — is a decommissioned biological warfare BW chamber and testing facility located on Fort Detrick, Maryland, USA2 It was constructed and utilized by the US Army Biological Warfare Laboratories as part of its BW research program from 1951 to 1969 It is the largest aerobiology chamber ever constructed and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977


  • 1 The structure
  • 2 History 1947-1969
  • 3 History 1969-present day
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

The structureedit

The stainless steel test sphere, a cloud chamber used to study static microbial aerosols, is a four-story high, 131-ton structure Its 1-inch-thick 25 mm, carbon steel hull was designed to withstand the internal detonation of "hot" biological bombs without risk to outsiders It was originally contained within a cubical brick building3

Its purpose was the study of infectious agent aerosols and testing of pathogen-filled munitions The device was designed to allow exposure of animals and humans to carefully controlled numbers of organisms by an aerosol inhalational route Live, tethered animals were inserted into the chamber along with BW bombs for exposure tests Human volunteers breathed metered aerosols of Q fever or tularemia organisms through ports along the perimeter of the sphere

History 1947-1969edit

The bottom of the sphere, in use

Herbert G Tanner, the head of Camp now Fort Detrick's Munitions Division, had envisioned an enclosed environment where biological tests could be conducted on site, rather than at remote places like Dugway Proving Ground, Utah and Horn Island, Mississippi

The facility was constructed during 1947 and 1948 and became operational at Camp Detrick in 1950

The test sphere was utilized during the Operation Whitecoat studies 1954–73, the first exposure taking place on January 25, 1955

History 1969-present dayedit

The test sphere has not been used since 1969, when the US offensive BW program was disestablished by President Nixon The brick building housing the test sphere was destroyed by fire in 1974 However, the chamber itself was placed on the National Register of Historic Places 1 in 1977

See alsoedit

  • Aerobiology
  • United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
  • United States biological weapons program
  • Building 470


  1. ^ National Park Service 2010-07-09 "National Register Information System" National Register of Historic Places National Park Service 
  2. ^ Guillemin, Jeanne 2005, Biological Weapons: From the Invention of State-sponsored Programs to Contemporary Bioterrorism, Columbia University Press, pg 97
  3. ^ James P Godsey nd "National Register of Historic Places Registration: One-Million-Liter Test Sphere" PDF Maryland Historical Trust Retrieved 2016-01-01 

External linksedit

  • Photos of the “Eight Ball” 234
  • Ethical and Legal Dilemmas in Biodefense Research
  • One-Million-Liter Test Sphere, Frederick County F-3-46, including photo from 2001, at Maryland Historical Trust

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