This page walks you through your first uses of SIMOC before you configure and test your own habitat design. You might also want to watch one of the instructional video tutorials.
We recommend that you learn about the simulation presets, each a demonstration of a unique configuration, but imperfect in one or more ways. You can then use Configuration Wizard to modify one or more presets or design your own mission with the goal of an improved balance of mechanical and plant-based life support. Be certain to download your simulation data for future reference to share with a colleague or friend.
- 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 or log in as a Guest. 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. No personal information is requested or required.
- Select NEW CONFIGURATION
- For your 1st simulation select 1 Human from the Preset menu.
- Without modification, LAUNCH SIMULATION. This is baseline mission where the astronaut is sustained through packaged food and the action of machines to remove CO2, generate O2, recycle water, and process human waste. 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 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.
- For your 2nd simulation, select NEW SIMULATION from the upper-right Dashboard menu. This time, select 1 Human + Radish. Again, allow the simulation to unfold and notice what happens to the CO2 consumption over time. Replace the Mission Status panel with Consumption Breakdown and replace the Inhabitant Status with Greenhouse Plant Growth and take note of when the CO2 Removal agents activate versus the maturity of the radishes. What happens over time? Why? And what changes between timestep 598 and 599?
- For your 3rd and 4th simulations, select 4 Humans and 4 Humans + Garden. Carefully study the data and look for correlations between each of the agents. Step forward and back one hour at a time to observe power, CO2, water, and food to learn where the system fails.
- Now you are ready to design a mission of your own. 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!