As the SIMOC team transitions from Phase IV into Phase V development, we are shifting design and coding gears from a year spent principally in improving the scalability and stability of the SIMOC deployment across Google Cloud Platform coupled with several improvements to the user interface, back into an effort to more closely define the agent interactions, improving their real-world representation.
Science educator and writer Dan Heim answers the question, “I know there’s water ice on the Moon and Mars, and I get how it can be melted and used for drinking, but I don’t get how they can make rocket fuel out of it. — WJ, Provo, UT”
Dan provides an animated answer at Sky Lights …
Former high school physics professor, lifelong amateur astronomer, and author of the Sky Lights, a weekly blog about things you see in the sky (and some you can’t see). Dan’s animated essays cover a wide range of disciplines including astronomy, meteorology, climatology, chemistry, physics, optics, earth & space science, and others.
This past two publications Dan has discussed Surviving in Space, with an emphasis on what it would take to make the International Space Station self-sustaining versus a habitat on the Moon or Mars. Dan writes, “Last week we looked at whether the ISS could be made totally self-sufficient and never require supply missions from Earth. The short answer was “yes” but the practical answer was “no”. However, in a colony on a moon or planet where outside resources (like water and minerals) are available, self-sufficiency is much easier.”
Space and Sustainability: How the Lessons of Biosphere 2 Inspired SAM²
by Matt Williams
January 27, 2021
A lot has been said, penned, and documented about the famous experiment known as “Biosphere 2” (B2). For anyone whose formative years coincided with the early 90s, this name probably sounds familiar. Since the project launched in 1991, it has been heavily publicized, criticized, and was even the subject of a documentary – titled “Spaceship Earth” – that premiered in May of 2020.
To listen to some of what’s been said about B2 (even after 30 years), one might get the impression that it was a failure that proved human beings cannot live together in a sealed environment for extended periods of time. But in truth, 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 (SAM²), 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.
Tuesday 05 Jan 2021
Interview with Trent Tresch and Kai Staats of the Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM)
Dr. David Livingston writes in summary of the interview, “We welcomed Trent Tresch back to the show and Kai Staats for the first time to discuss the SAM analog study at Biosphere 2 in Arizona. Our 65 minute discussion started by my asking Kai about his background and what specifically led him to the point of developing the SAM simulation model. Trent had experiences … that not only brought him in contact with Kai but to playing a substantial role in developing space [related projects] and the SAM.”
The first of the Phase IV updates to SIMOC is now live at the National Geographic server. This release marks a return to the evolution of the SIMOC user interface after several months work on an automated build and deployment pipeline by the development team. The current effort is focused on reducing the quantity of dashboard panels where in a single panel will have an inset pull-down menu with multiple options.
Now the Production / Consumption panel can display carbon dioxide, oxygen, water, and energy. Front-end developer Ezio Melotti states, “With the automated build and deployment system in place, we are now able to release SIMOC updates on a regular basis with the confidence of a fully tested environment. This first release lays the foundation for many more to come, soon.”
Researchers Brittany Zimmerman, MSc of the University of North Dakota and Sean Gellenbeck, PhD student of the University of Arizona are each working on advanced plant physiology experiments in which SIMOC is integrated into their research project.
Sean will be growing mushrooms and algae in a closed/sealed environment while at the HI-SEAS analog on the Big Island of Hawaii. His work will introduce a new cultivar to SIMOC. Brittany will be conducting an experiment similar to that of Kai Staats in 2019 at the Biosphere 2. Where Kai and his team monitored CO2, photosynthetic activated radiation (PAR), temperature, relative humidity, and biomass accumulation for barley fodder to give foundation to a non-linear growth function, Brittany will be growing a number of cultivars already contained in the SIMOC model to compare the simulation data to the real experiments.
Both Brittany and Sean will be directly modifying the agent description file for a local installation of SIMOC. This enables them to customize the SIMOC simulation to match the working conditions of their experiments, including volume, air flow, ambient CO2, PAR etc.
We wish them both the best of luck, and are eager to publish the results later in 2021.
The SAM Symposium 2020 is concluded with a dozen team members from around the world sharing their enthusiasm and expertise in helping our species become interplanetary.
You can watch all of the videos at samb2.space/sam/podcasts-videos
01 + 02 – Open with Kai Staats, and a welcome by Dr. Joaquin Ruiz, UA VP of Global Environmental Futures and Executive Director at Biosphere 2
03 – Taber MacCallum, Founder, Co-CEO & CTO for Space Perspective
04 – Ewan Reid, CEO of Mission Control Space Services
05 – Dr. Cameron Smith, Founder and Trent Tresch, Researcher at Smith Aerospace Garments
06 – Ezio Melotti, Lead front-end Developer at SIMOC
07 – Anastasiya Stepanova, Engineer at the Institute of Biomedical Problems and SIRIUS
08 – Dr. Shannon Rupert – Director of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS ), Mars Society
09 – Michael Blum and the UA CEAC / Mars-Lunar Greenhouse student team
10 – Coby Scheidemantel and the UA ENGR 498 Capstone student team
11 – Bryan Versteeg, Conceptual Designer at Space Habs
12 – John Adams, Deputy Director at Biosphere 2 and Kai Staats, Director of SAM
We are pleased to announce that the University of Arizona’s Tech Launch Arizona has provided funded for Stage 1 construction of SAM, a Space Analog for the Moon and Mars at the iconic Biosphere 2.
Tech Launch Arizona sees a unique opportunity to develop methods, procedures, and product driven IP for the advancement of human space exploration while improving our management of resources and sustained agriculture on Earth in the context of a changing climate.
This sets in motion the long-range plan to integrate SIMOC and SAM, where SIMOC improves its model of the complex nature of a human-in-the-loop closed ecosystem through data captured during SAM operations. SIMOC will then be given an AI engine with which it can monitor, manage, and control advanced, hermetically sealed human habitats on the Moon and Mars.
Kai Staats, Director of SAM at B2
The Mars Society’s 23rd Annual International Mars Society Convention will convene Thursday-Sunday, October 15-18, 2020, across this planet via the Internet!
The Mars Society’s four-day, international, virtual conference brings together leading scientists, government policymakers, commercial space executives, science journalists and space advocates to discuss the latest scientific and technological developments and challenges related to the human and robotic exploration of Mars and the eventual human settlement of the Red Planet.
Kai Staats will give a talk and live demonstration of SIMOC followed by a unveiling of SAM, a hi-fidelity, hermetically sealed Mars analog being constructed at the iconic Biosphere 2. [download slides (PDF)]