Phase IV — In progress
With launch at the National Geographic Education Resource Library June 1, 2020, the development team has gained valuable feedback and insight to the use of SIMOC in the classroom. We are now implementing an evolving list of improvements to the user experience, providing a greater insight to the simulation data with on-board visualization tools. With Phase IV staggered crop rotation, food nutrients, and thermal exchange will be integrated into the simulation to provide a more dynamic, rich experience with even greater potential for non-linear outcomes and simulation of the real world.
The user will be enabled to expand the habitat to support an increase in the human population. This might include the addition of greenhouse, crew habitat, and solar panel array. To determine the rate of expansion, we will track resources by kilogram and those construction materials shipped from Earth versus those manufactured via in situ resource utilization (ISRU). Each expansion task will be restricted by the cost of energy and time.
When the user commits a resupply mission, he/she will allocate (by kilograms) the payload configuration: the percentage of the allowed mass to be humans, rovers, food, structural building materials, or plants. This allows the user to a) build an entire infrastructure first, and then bring the humans, or b) bring humans as the habitat grows, representing two unique yet viable solutions to habitat expansion.
In Phase VI we will introduce entropy, events unfolding out of the user’s control. This represents aging of the systems and stochastic (entropic) breakdown—an airlock leak, a solid waste processor failure, or a meteorite strike resulting in catastrophic failure of the greenhouse and crops. The user-player is then engaged in real-time decision making about how to allocate resources to save lives, or to abandon base and return to Earth.
In the Phase II development of SIMOC we created a library of 3D images, renderings from the art and design of team member Bryan Versteeg. It is our desire to move from 2D into 360 views and interactive Virtual Reality (VR). In this new paradigm, the user will configure the greenhouse by selecting plants from a storehouse and then placing them in hydroponic grow chambers. Instant updates on growth functions (CO2, O2, H2O, biomass, etc.) will be available to the user through virtual touch of the plants. This personal, integrated experience will bring the SIMOC user into the experience of living and working on the Moon or Mars—a rich, unparalleled educational experience.