Researchers revive the dream of a martian habitat in Arizona—in miniature, August 19, 2021
by Michael Price for Science

“SAM is a welcome addition, says ecologist Shannon Rupert, director of another Mars analog, the Utah-based Mars Desert Research Station. ‘SAM has two distinct blessings,’ she says. ‘First, it’s already connected to a known destination, Biosphere 2, so it can have a huge public impact.’ Second, its airtight and pressurized facility ‘is the first of its kind.'” Read the full story.

ICES 2021, July 12-14, 2021

The paper “SIMOC – A hi-fidelity simulation of off-world, human habitation and bioregenerative life support as a platform for citizen scientists and virtual classrooms” was presented to the virtual International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) 2021 was authored by Kai Staats and Ezio Melotti of Over the Sun, LLC;, Tyson Brown of National Geographic Society; Pete Barnes of the New Albany Intermediate school; Gretchen Hollingsworth of the Barrow Arts & Sciences Academy; and Michael Pope of the Zama American Middle/High School, Japan. Read the full paper.

Space and Sustainability: How the Lessons of Biosphere 2 Inspired SAM, January 27, 2021
by Matt Williams for Universe Today

“… 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 (SAM), 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.”

Read the full article.

Planetary Society, June 3, 2020
In the weekly Downlink news update, SIMOC is featured as the Wow of the Week, “With COVID-19 still keeping many of us at home, it’s a great time to dive into a simulated Martian habitat. With the SIMOC web interface, you can design your own Mars habitat and then run a simulation to find out if your astronauts would survive …” Read the full post.

Interactive model simulates keeping house on Mars, June 1, 2020
A research-grade computer model and web interface for citizen scientists of all ages to design and operate a human habitat on the red planet, SIMOC is anything but a game. It was built on published data for mechanical life support systems (like those used on the International Space Station) and bioregeneration (sustaining human life with plants) with guidance from experts at NASA, Paragon Space Development, ASU and the University of Arizona. Read the full story at Arizona State University’s ASU NOW

World Ships: Feasibility and Rationale, April 11, 2020
World ships are hypothetical, large, self-contained spacecraft for crewed interstellar travel, taking centuries to reach other stars. Due to their crewed nature, size and long trip times, the feasibility of world ships faces an additional set of challenges compared to interstellar probes. In part, we explore the application of SIMOC to world ship design. Acta Futura 12 (2020) 75-104

An agent-based model for high-fidelity ECLSS and bioregenerative simulation, July 2019
As published and presented at ICES 2019, in collaboration with the Biosphere 2, SIMOC was configured to approximate the non-linear functions of CO2 and biomass production in a real-world plant growth study conducted at the Biosphere 2. This publication sees the results of the first application of this novel approach to modeling a real-world plant study, where data generated by the SIMOC model is compared to data collected for the duration of the experiment, and then compared. Available from Texas Tech University

NASA’s 2019 BIG Idea Challenge Winner Designs Best Planetary Greenhouse, April 2019
A team from Dartmouth was announced the winning team of the fourth annual Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge April 24 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Massachusetts Institute of Technology University was awarded second place. SIMOC was used to generate non-linear functions for CO2 sequestration for each of the principal plants used in the Dartmouth team’s design, thereby enabling a data-driven model for the transpiration of the total plant ecology. Learn more with the full story …

SpaceTalk, The Next Generation, February 2019
The magazine for the all International Space University Alumni. In this issue, SIMOC is featured with a 7-page spread, telling the story of how SIMOC got started through the first two phases of development. Read the full publication at



Lectures from January through June 2021

In addition, Kai Staats, John Adams, and Trent Tresch have engaged in a number of presentations about SIMOC and SAM during the first half of 2021, including presentations to NASA Interns, primary and secondary schools in Australia & Thailand, and to a physics group at U Mass Dartmouth.

Mars Society 2020, October 17, 2020
Kai Staats presents SIMOC and SAM to the Mars Society 2020 virtual convention. He provides an introduction to SIMOC coupled with a live demonstration at the National Geographic website, and then provides the world premiere of SAM with a description of how these two projects inform each other, from simulation data collection, and eventually AI-driven management and real-time control of the life support system, plant growth, and more. Watch the presentation on the SIMOC videos page …

Software for Space, July 1, 2020
The Meetup group Software for Space hosted a live presentation, demonstration, and Q&A session with Kai Staats, project lead and Ezio Melotti, lead front-end developer for SIMOC, a scalable, interactive model of an off-world community. Watch the recording.

Life and Systems in Closed Worlds, Biosphere 2, December 13, 2019
A new interdisciplinary research initiative on “Life and Systems in Closed Worlds”, involving social and natural scientists, launched by the French ​Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the University of Arizona and​ Ecole Normale Supérieure. Kai Staats shared his team’s work in off-world habitat simulation through SIMOC, and development of the Mars analog research station SAM.

ASU Interplanetary Initiative, September 30, 2019
An interview video about SIMOC, for the Arizona State University, School of Earth & Space Exploration, Interplanetary Initiative. Watch here …

A Study of Analogs Missions for the Moon and Mars, Biosphere 2, May 10, 2019
Kai Staats shared withe Biosphere 2 Board of Directors a vision for the world’s highest fidelity Lunar and Mars analog and research station. A Study of Analog Missions (SAM) will be a human-in-the-loop, hermetically sealed environment for short- and long-term biology, ecology, chemistry, and habitation studies. It will incorporate a fully functional airlock, semi-closed ecosystem, Paragon ECLSS life support, and pressure suits for all entry, exit, and EVAs.

Rose City Astronomers, Portland, Oregon, November 19, 2018
Living on Mars—From Biosphere 2 to The Martian. Kai Staats engaged the audience in a brief overview of historic microgravity plant growth experiments, human-in-the-loop closed ecosystem studies, the challenges of living off-world, and an introduction to SIMOC, an ASU Interplanetary Initiative pilot project. In this scalable, interactive model of an off-world community built on decades of NASA data, researchers and citizen scientists select crew quarters, a greenhouse and plants, and power generation, and then set the model in motion to learn how well the design holds up.