Postcards from Mars

Home/Postcards from Mars/

SIMOC Phase IIIb takes to the clouds!

The SIMOC development team is nearly complete with server-side and front-end updates that now include support for cloud-based services such as those offered by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. This major update saw a redesign of the database for fast read and write times, and greater scalability. What’s more, the Configuration Wizard now includes all updates as suggested by the National Geographic review panel. The configuration procedure is now simplified, the number of steps reduced, and a preferred configuration can be saved to the user’s local drive for re-loading with the next run. The Dashboard too is nearly complete, with simulation data download the final, remaining update. The panel layout and functionality is improved, with a number of features we are eager to share, soon.


By |2020-05-02T07:52:36+00:00February 2nd, 2020|Categories: Research & Development|0 Comments

SIMOC, SAM featured at the Closed Worlds workshop, Biosphere 2

Closed Worlds banner

SIMOC project lead and principal developer of SAM Kai Staats will provide a one hour talk and live demo for the Life and Systems in Closed Worlds meeting at the Biosphere 2, December 11, 2019.

The French Centre National de la Recherche Scientique, ​the ​Ecole Normale Supérieure ​in Paris, Paris Sciences & Lettres University and its research program Origin and condition of Appearance of Life (OCAV), and the University of Arizona are jointly launching a new research initiative on Life and Systems in Closed Worlds involving social and natural scientists. This is an interdisciplinary initiative between ecologists, anthropologists, biologists, geochemists, space and planetary scientists, engineers, architects, and experts in robotics and AI. The goal is to tackle novel disciplinary and interdisciplinary questions arising from the study of closed living systems across multiple scales of space and time, from the small and short of micro-biospherics, through macro-systems such as Biosphere 2, Ecotrons or Bios, to the large and long of terraformation.

On behalf of the supporting institutions, the International Research Laboratory iGLOBES will convene a small group of experts to address interdisciplinary challenges arising from life and systems in closed worlds, and explore the potential for national and international collaborations. The meeting will be held at the University of Arizona Biosphere 2, 11-13 December 2019.

Download the full workshop description …

By |2019-11-30T21:44:14+00:00November 30th, 2019|Categories: In the news|0 Comments

SIMOC Phase IIIa review by Nat Geo

We have concluded our first round of review by the National Geographic Certified Educator Review Team, primary and secondary classroom instructors who test computer software products in their own classroom. We have received feedback and are already working to revise and improve SIMOC accordingly. With the close of December we anticipate a final round of reviews before diving into Phase IIIb in the first half of 2020. This final effort will take us to a release candidate for the National Geographic Society Education Resource Library.

Stay tuned!

By |2020-05-07T05:16:40+00:00November 30th, 2019|Categories: Research & Development|0 Comments

SIMOC Phase IIIa beta is away!

SIMOC Phase III beta dashboard

We did it! Today we provided key partners with access to a beta release of SIMOC Phase IIIa. We now await their feedback, notes, and bugs in order to help us wrap the past ten months of development with the close of the year. Then we move into Phase IIIb in 2020, with the goal of improving realworld fidelity, the user Dashboard experience, and reliability over scalability across a cloud service platform. Come mid 2020, we intend to launch SIMOC a the Mational Geographic Education Resource Library.

By |2020-05-07T05:16:05+00:00October 1st, 2019|Categories: Research & Development|0 Comments

A soft release pending

The SIMOC developers are (as I type) hard at work to wrap up loose ends and tighten the details for a soft-release to National Geographic on Monday. The Nat Geo review team will provide feedback for their experience of SIMOC and the associated educational curriculum. The SIMOC development team will then update and improve SIMOC through the month of October. This marks two and a half years in development, a team of a dozen developers in total with countless thousands of hours, and the support of individuals at NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Kennedy, Arizona State University’s School of Earth & Space Exploration and Interplanetary Initiative, Paragon Space Development Corporation, and many other individuals from both private and public sector institutions.

We are excited for the day in which we can share SIMOC with you!

By |2020-05-02T07:45:55+00:00September 29th, 2019|Categories: Research & Development|0 Comments

A focus on ease of deployment, user interface

The months of July and August have seen a steady improvement in the SIMOC Configuration Wizard, Dashboard, and back-end server. With new team member and developer Ezio Melotti we have focused on ease of deployment and the user interface while Iurii and Sinead continued to fine tune back-end efficiency. In a system as complex as SIMOC, we have had to rethink and retool a few of our systems, including the means by which we request and then deliver data to the front-end. In so doing, we have doubled the performance and stabilized long duration runs. SIMOC is now a proper research tool, fully function from the command line or with web interface. The simulation of a modest habitat on Mars can be completed in roughly twenty minutes on a laptop, less on a more substantial system.

By |2020-05-02T07:43:31+00:00September 21st, 2019|Categories: Research & Development|0 Comments

Steady as she goes …

Software development does not always move from exciting milestone to major update.

Sometimes, as with sailing, you find the wind to be steady but not terribly strong, the direction consistent and the course well known. Each day you welcome the rising sun, and each night check your progress against the stars.

Steady as she goes, SIMOC is getting closer to a new home.

By |2020-05-02T07:29:39+00:00July 26th, 2019|Categories: Research & Development|0 Comments

SIMOC Publication at ICES 2019

At the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) 2019, Kai Staats, project lead for the Interplanetary Initiative pilot project SIMOC will present the procedure and findings of the barley growth experiment conducted at the Biosphere 2, Feb-Mar 2019, with an emphasis on the non-linear functions developed for SIMOC.

ICES 2019, July 7-11, Boston Omni Parker House
ECLSS Modeling and Test Correlations
ICES-2019-368, Wednesday, July 10
Download the Publication

Title: An agent-based model for high-fidelity ECLSS and bioregenerative simulation.

Abstract: Mathematical models can combine baseline assumptions about relatively simple, real-world systems into complex simulations, providing researchers with access to otherwise difficult to build or cost prohibitive environments. An agent-based model (ABM) employs the actions and interactions of individual and collective, autonomous agents such that their behavior, when allowed to unfold over a specified time, may exhibit non-linear, dynamic, and probabilistic behavior. SIMOC (a scalable, interactive model of an off-world community) is a Python agent-based model with both a research and educational component, developed to simulate hybrid ECLSS and bioregenerative closed systems, as those considered for long-term human habitation of the Moon or Mars. The SIMOC web-based agent editor enables rapid design of new agents to approximate real-world systems. While SIMOC was built upon data for both humans and plants extracted from the NASA Baseline Assumptions and Values Document, this publication sees first application of this novel approach to modeling the growth cycle of a single plant species in a semi-sealed, controlled environment, from seed to harvest, tracking air temperature, relative humidity, PAR, carbon dioxide, water run-off and biomass accumulation.

By |2019-07-02T06:22:38+00:00June 29th, 2019|Categories: Publications|0 Comments

Beta product is running!

After more than two months focused effort on improving performance, stability, and the user interface, we have produced a launch beta product that installs on Linux, OSX, Windows, both personal computers and servers alike. The performance improvements are astounding, with 500 simulation time-steps running in just 50 seconds, or 5 hours per second. This means we can simulate roughly one full day on Mars in roughly 5 seconds. And this includes the front-end (web dashboard). If we run the server alone, it is even faster!

Stay tuned!

By |2020-05-02T07:27:35+00:00June 16th, 2019|Categories: Research & Development|0 Comments