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.
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.
Our resident coding wizards have completed the arduous task of updating the SIMOC build environment (good things in computer land always take longer than anticipated) and we are ready to get back to making SIMOC a higher fidelity, more engaging experience on Mars for you!
Iurii and Ezio have made significant progress on the new build environment for SIMOC. This updated system enables incremental updates to the SIMOC back-end and front-end code base without invoking a full system rebuild, and automated migration to our beta and National Geographic servers. It may not seem like much, but it will make a world of difference to our development process and overall, the quality of our code.
We are excited to dive into an improved user experience, soon!
We are working hard at constructing a new build environment for SIMOC, enabling automated unit testing and the ability to updates portions of a live build, without replacing the whole thing.
SIMOC Phase IV will include a molecular-level validation of key currency exchanges between agents, consolidation of similar panels with drop-down menus, new panels to provide a greater diversity of real-time information monitoring, and tracking of nutrition from food harvest to human consumption.
More to come, stay tuned!
In the first half of 2020, the SIMOC development team has worked tirelessly to design, develop, rebuild, and test what has become a robust, engaging simulator for the complex interactions of isolated, off-world living.
We are eager to share with you the fruition of our labor in just twelve hours …
With the completion of the National Geographic Certified Educators review, we are not just two weeks from launch of SIMOC.
The first example of how a teacher has integrated SIMOC into the classroom is now available for viewing and download.
The development team is ironing out a few more wrinkles in the code, making final adjustments to the interface, and testing, testing, testing.
Today nine National Geographic Certified Educators, primary and secondary classroom instructors, were granted access to the SIMOC Phase IIIb launch candidate for a final review and test run in their virtual classrooms. This marks the second test by this team, the first in October 2019.
This is the first time SIMOC is running on the Google Cloud Platform, a massively scalable infrastructure for automated scaling, fail-over/restart, and for use by hundreds, even thousands of citizen scientists worldwide. We eagerly await their feedback for how they were able to integrate SIMOC into their lesson plans, and how their home-bound students engaged SIMOC, given Preset or custom habitat design exploration.
Eventually, even the most enjoyable computer software development projects must come to a close. SIMOC Phase IIIb is as of the close of April 2020 entering a feature and code freeze, save testing, bug squishing, and reliability enhancing across scalable cloud architectures.
The number of improvements to the back-end server and front-end dashboard are many, with the past five months dedicated to refining the agent definitions and their interactions, and improving the database and server-client communication protocol.
The second National Geographic review team commences on Monday, May 4 for a two weeks period.
Launch at the National Geographic Education Resource library is slated for June 1, 2020.