SAM is a dynamic platform and infrastructure for ever expanding research and experiential learning. It is our goal to provide visiting teams a rich personal and team experience both inside and outside of the Test Module (greenhouse) and crew quarters. Hi-fidelity, fully operational equipment and systems mirror those employed now or in near-future flight and habitation systems. The following details some of the integral components incorporated into the design of the total SAM facility.

Test Module at SAM, Biosphere 2

Test Module
In 1987 Test Module was built as a prototype to the Biosphere 2. This hermetically sealed space proved atmospheric and water recycling, food production, waste management, and mitigation of atmospheric pressure changes. The Test Module serves as the Controlled Environment where hydroponic and grow bed experiments are conducted, food cultivated, and waste recycled in an integrated bioregenerative life support system. Learn more …

Lung at SAM, Biosphere 2

Lung and Pressure Regulation System
The Test Module lung is a variable volume pressure regulation system composed of a 3,800 pound steel pan attached to a flexible membrane, forming a sealed lower chamber and extended vessel. The mass of the pan exerts a continuous, downward pressure on the column of air which in turn pressurizes all of SAM. A computer controlled Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) blower enables rapid inflation of the lung and finite control over airflow during Mode 1 or Mode 2 operation. Learn more …

CO2 scrubber at SAM, Biosphere 2

CO2 Scrubber
In 2021 SAM received a fully operational, prototype CO2 scrubber built by Paragon Space Development Corporation for NASA to establish a baseline. In 2022 a UA Capstone Engineer team use SAM as a testbed for a NASA-funded swingbed CO2 scrubber prototype. In 2023 the SAM team will design and construct its own swingbed CO2 scrubber for use in fully sealed missions at SAM, where captured CO2 is compressed and delivered to the plants in the Test Module controlled environment.

Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen conducting an EVA in the Mars yard at SAM, Biosphere 2

SAM incorporates a fully functional airlock for movement between the Mars yard and entry to the crew quarters. This airlock has two pressure doors, one on each end, and enables crew members to venture in and out of the habitat without depressurizing the entire vessel. The air used to repressurize is drawn from within SAM, and is compensated by the automated pressure regulation system.

Pressure suit at SAM, Biosphere 2

Pressure Suits
SAM crew have at their disposal the use of two pressure suits for all EVA missions into the Mars yard. Developed by Dr. Cameron Smith of Smith Aerospace Garments, these high fidelity systems incorporate a pressurized bladder (1-4 psi over ambient) and cover-all garment for a realistic experience. The regulated airflow source can be an umbilical chord to SAM or a self-contained Mars cart with compressed air (SCUBA tank). Learn more …

Mars Yard at SAM, Biosphere 2

Mars Yard
SAM will incorporate an indoor and outdoor Mars yard. The 3,200 square foot (~300 square meter) indoor Mars yard and terrain park will provide visiting team members with the challenge of moving over a variety of terrain features with pressure suits and rovers. The indoor Mars yard will incorporate a small synthetic lava tube and reduced gravity simulator. The outdoor Mars yard will be readily resculpted to support visiting teams, competitions, and construction projects.

Gravity off-set rig at SAM, Biosphere 2

Reduced Gravity Simulator
The SAM Reduced Gravity Simulator (also known as a gravity-offset rig) is a mechanical means to reduce the apparent weight of a suited or unsuited individual for the purpose of training for movement in less than 1g gravitational fields, to test equipment and procedures, and to learn how a rover might operate when moving over varied terrain in 1/3 (Mars) or 1/6 (Moon) gravity. Learn more …

Mission Control at SAM, Biosphere 2

Operations and Mission Control
The SAM Operations Center and Mission Control is a 1,200 sq-ft building separate from the SAM habitat and Mars yard and on campus at Biosphere 2. SAM Ops includes a small workshop for on-site repair of equipment, a library and den, a full-featured conference room for local team and virtual meetings, a full kitchen and bath, and Mission Control complete with projection screen for real-time data monitoring and communications, four workstations as designated by visiting crew. SAM Ops will be fully operational in February 2024. Stay tuned!