This page walks you through your first three or four uses of SIMOC, guiding you before you test your own habitat design. Before you dive in, you may want to learn about the simulation Presets, four pre-configured simulations, each a demonstration of a particular habitat design, but imperfect in one or more ways. You can then use the SIMOC Configuration Wizard to modify this design to discover an improved balance of mechanical and plant-based life support systems.
- Launch SIMOC at the National Geographic Education Resource library
- Read the WELCOME message, End User License Agreement, and then PROCEED.
- SIGN UP to create an account. The username contains only letters, numbers, underscores (_), dashes (-), dots (.), and must be at least 4 characters long. The password must have at least 8 characters, but is not otherwise restricted.
- Select NEW CONFIGURATION
- For your first simulation select One Human from the Preset menu.
- Without modification to the configuration, LAUNCH SIMULATION. This is an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS)-only configuration, meaning the single human is sustained through packaged food and the action of machines to remove CO2, replenish O2; condense water vapor into liquid and process human feces and urin. This is how the astronauts on the Apollo missions, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station have for five decades lived in space.
Using the timeline scrubber at the Dashboard bottom, you can Pause and move backward / forward one simulated hour at a time. Try swapping panels to monitor various parameters. Pay close attention to power production and consumption, CO2, and food consumption to learn how they change over time.
If you desire to save the full dataset from this run, select DOWNLOAD SIMULATION DATA from the upper-right Dashboard menu. This can be reloaded at any time without having to wait for the SIMOC server to conduct another simulation.
- For your second run, select NEW SIMULATION from the upper-right Dashboard menu. This time, select Four Humans. Again, allow the simulation to unfold and notice what happens. Do all the inhabitants make it? If not, Why? Rewind the timeline, step forward one hour at a time and observe CO2, water, and food.
- For your third and fourth runs, select Radish and then Full Garden respectively. Again, allow the simulation to unfold and notice what happens. Do all the inhabitants make it? If not, Why? Step forward and backward one hour at a time and observe power, CO2, water, and food to learn where the system fails.
- With additional runs, design a mission of your own or download a run available from the SIMOC website or from a teacher or friend. During use of the configuration screen, be certain to view the graphs on the right panel and adjust the number of solar PV panels to compensate for the greenhouse grow lights. You’ll want at least 1000 kilowatt hours battery for nighttime power, maybe more.
Parameter Minimum / Maximum Values
Duration: 10 min / max 365 Earth days
Inhabitants: 0 min / max 10 astronauts
Food: 0 min / max 8760 kg [0.1 kg/hr x 24 hrs x 365 days x 20 astronauts max]
ECLSS: 0 min / max 10 [supports maximum 3 astronauts per module]
Solar PV: 0 min / max 100 [354 W/m2 , given a 1x2m panel on Mars]
Batteries: 0 min / max 10,000 kWh
Doing Science with SIMOC
The power of SIMOC is the means by which it combines relatively simple, linear functions into a complex model that exhibits non-linear behavior – meaning, you cannot easily predict the outcome. Like the butterfly effect, small perturbations can cause lasting, positive or detrimental change. Both the challenge and reward lies in discovering what combination of packaged food, mechanical life support, and bioregeneration will result in a long-term, sustainable habitat on the Moon or Mars. Use the scientific method to make a hypothesis for the model behavior, run the simulation, and compare the outcome. Then change one variable, run it again, compare and adjust accordingly.
Most important of all, have fun!