Ecosystem Modeling and Validation using Empirical Data from NASA CELSS and Biosphere 2, July 16-20, 2023
This paper was presented at the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) by Grant Hawkins with Ezio Melotti, Kai Staats, Atila Meszaros, and Gene Giacomelli. “In this study, we extend the Scalable, Interactive Model of an Off-world Community (SIMOC) with a highly generic plant growth model that incorporates 22 different plant species and validate it against two high-profile and dissimilar experiments: NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System and the Biosphere 2 Intensive Agricultural Biome.” Read the full paper..
Integrating Real-Time Environmental Data into an Educational Web Interface, July 16-20, 2023
This paper was presented at the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) by Meridith Greythorne with Gregory Ross, Ian Castellanos, Grant Hawkins, Ezio Melotti, Ryan Meneses, Kai Staats, and Gretchen Hollingsworth. “The integration of real-world data into SIMOC offers new and exciting opportunities for students to connect with concepts of interplanetary travel and habitats. This paper details the components integrated into SIMOC such that current and future classrooms may perform hands-on experimentation through use of in-classroom sensor arrays, and describes in-depth a classroom experience implementing this system with local sensors.” Read the full paper..
Integration and Validation of Mushroom and Algae into an Agent-based Model of a Physico-chemical and Bioregenerative ECLSS, July 16-20, 2023
This paper was presented at the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) by Sean Gellenbeck with Joel Cuello, Barry Pryor, Chuck Gerba, and Kai Staats. “The project sought to integrate mushroom and aquaculture subsystems to provide additional sources of edible biomass (especially proteins) with focus placed on maximizing the remediation and recycling of inedible biomass … Mushrooms and algae were modeled and validated through a series of experiments. These experiments examined the two cultures individually to inform SIMOC which was then used to design a combined system to provide validation.” Read the full paper..
Four-person crew released from sealed habitat after week long journey, May 3, 2023
by Paola Rodriguez for Arizona Public Media
“A new adventure is beginning at Biosphere 2 north of Tucson. A four-person crew sealed themselves into an air-tight, pressurized habitat Thursday morning to learn more about what life might be like on another planet.” Read the full article.
Four-person crew sealed into pressurized habitat to learn about space living, April 28, 2023
by Paola Rodriguez for Arizona Public Media
“As the pressurized air from the Space Analog for the Moon and Mars was released into the Earth’s atmosphere, cheers of happiness and deep breaths of fresh air were taken in. Four researchers emerged from their sealed, pressurized habitat at Biosphere 2 after being locked in for almost a week in the name of space exploration. Their task: to learn more about what work and life would be like on another planet.” Read the full article.
Life on Mars: Arizona startup simulates off-world habitats , August 11, 2022
by Jeff Kronenfeld
(Oracle, AZ) The Arizona-based company Over the Sun, LLC, has developed software for simulating off-world habitats, which it continues to improve and find new uses for on Earth. A Scalable, Interactive Model of an Off-World Community (SIMOC) is software that enables users to design and test a Martian colony — including choosing life support systems, crew size, what to plant in their greenhouses, and the number of solar panels and batteries. Data from NASA adds realism to the simulation, though not every digital Martian colonist makes it out alive. The first-ever interactive kiosk using SIMOC is being installed at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. The exhibit is slated to open in the near future.
Integrating Mushrooms into an Agent-based Model of a Physico-chemical and Bioregenerative ECLSS, July 10-14, 2022
This paper was presented at the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) by Sean Gellenbeck with Joel Cuello, Kai Staats, Ezio Melotti, and Grant Hawkins. “To design a stable and integrated bioregenerative life support system for long-duration, off-world missions, several biological subsystems will need to be included in the initial trade study and modeling effort. One such proposed subsystem is mushrooms.” Read the full paper..
Responses to Elevated CO2 on Food Production and Life Support Systems in a Mars Habitat, July 10-14, 2022
This paper was presented at the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) by Grant Hawkins with Ezio Melotti, and Kai Staats. “A species-specific model of responses to ambient CO2 on plant CO2 absorption, transpiration and biomass production is integrated into SIMOC [ICES 2019, 2021], an agent-based model for high-fidelity ECLSS and bioregenerative simulations.” Read the full paper..
Biosphere 2: The Once Infamous Live-In Terrarium Is Transforming Climate Research, October 4, 2021
by By Keridwen Cornelius for Scientific American
“The Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM) ‘is very much, at a scientific level and even a philosophical level, similar to the original Biosphere,’ says SAM director Kai Staats. Unlike other space analogues around the world, SAM will be a hermetically sealed habitat. Its primary purpose will be to discover how to transition from mechanical methods of generating breathable air to a self-sustaining system where plants, fungi and people produce a precise balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide.” Read the full story.
Researchers revive the dream of a martian habitat in Arizona—in miniature, August 19, 2021
by Michael Price for Science
“SAM is a welcome addition, says ecologist Shannon Rupert, director of another Mars analog, the Utah-based Mars Desert Research Station. ‘SAM has two distinct blessings,’ she says. ‘First, it’s already connected to a known destination, Biosphere 2, so it can have a huge public impact.’ Second, its airtight and pressurized facility ‘is the first of its kind.'” Read the full story.
Scaled Automated Pressure Regulation System for Analog Moon and Mars Habitat, July 12-14, 2021
This paper was presented at the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) by Gustavo Aguilar Velez, Ahmed Alraeesi, James Marlar, Meghan Marlowe, Coby Scheidemantel, Arfan Wibisono, John Adams, and Kai Staats. “A team of six engineering students at the University of Arizona designed and constructed a prototype Automated Pressure Regulation System (APRS) for a Mars habitat. The APRS draws from an internal air source and external air resupply. To verify the APRS design, a 1:10 scaled model was constructed.” Read the full paper.
SIMOC – A hi-fidelity simulation of off-world, human habitation and bioregenerative life support … for citizen scientists …, July 12-14, 2021
This paper was presented at the virtual International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) by Kai Staats with Ezio Melotti, Tyson Brown, Pete Barnes, Gretchen Hollingsworth, and Michael Pope. “This publication presents the results of a world-wide engagement of SIMOC, with specific examples of how SIMOC was integrated into virtual classrooms during the COVID pandemic for an iterative exploration of the scientific method.” Read the full paper | Watch the virtual presentation.
Space and Sustainability: How the Lessons of Biosphere 2 Inspired SAM, January 27, 2021
by Matt Williams for Universe Today
“… it was a tremendous learning experience, the results of which continue to inform human spaceflight and ecosystem research today. In an era of renewed interplanetary exploration, those lessons are more vital than ever. This is the purpose behind the Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM), a new analog experiment led by Kai Staats and John Adams. Along with an international team of specialists, experts from the University of Arizona, and support provided by NASA, the National Geographic Society, and commercial partners, SAM² will validate the systems and technology that will one-day allow for colonies on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.” Read the full article.
Planetary Society, June 3, 2020
In the weekly Downlink news update, SIMOC is featured as the Wow of the Week, “With COVID-19 still keeping many of us at home, it’s a great time to dive into a simulated Martian habitat. With the SIMOC web interface, you can design your own Mars habitat and then run a simulation to find out if your astronauts would survive …” Read the full post.
Interactive model simulates keeping house on Mars, June 1, 2020
A research-grade computer model and web interface for citizen scientists of all ages to design and operate a human habitat on the red planet, SIMOC is anything but a game. It was built on published data for mechanical life support systems (like those used on the International Space Station) and bioregeneration (sustaining human life with plants) with guidance from experts at NASA, Paragon Space Development, ASU and the University of Arizona. Read the full story by Scott Seckel at Arizona State University’s ASU NOW
World Ships: Feasibility and Rationale, April 11, 2020
World ships are hypothetical, large, self-contained spacecraft for crewed interstellar travel, taking centuries to reach other stars. Due to their crewed nature, size and long trip times, the feasibility of world ships faces an additional set of challenges compared to interstellar probes. In part, we explore the application of SIMOC to world ship design. Acta Futura 12 (2020) 75-104
An agent-based model for high-fidelity ECLSS and bioregenerative simulation, July 2019
This paper was presented to the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES 2019) by Kai Staats with Iurii Milovanov, John Adams, Gregory Schoberth, Thomas Curry, Katherine Morgan, Jason Deleeuw, and Gene Giacomelli. “SIMOC was configured to approximate the non-linear functions of CO2 and biomass production in a real-world plant growth study conducted at the Biosphere 2. This publication sees the results of the first application of this novel approach to modeling a real-world plant study, where data generated by the SIMOC model is compared to data collected for the duration of the experiment, and then compared.” Read the full paper.
NASA’s 2019 BIG Idea Challenge Winner Designs Best Planetary Greenhouse, April 2019
A team from Dartmouth was announced the winning team of the fourth annual Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge April 24 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Massachusetts Institute of Technology University was awarded second place. SIMOC was used to generate non-linear functions for CO2 sequestration for each of the principal plants used in the Dartmouth team’s design, thereby enabling a data-driven model for the transpiration of the total plant ecology. Learn more with the full story …
SpaceTalk, The Next Generation, February 2019
The magazine for the all International Space University Alumni. In this issue, SIMOC is featured with a 7-page spread, telling the story of how SIMOC got started through the first two phases of development. Read the full publication at Calameo.com