SIMOC - an isolated, off-world human community

In the coming decade science fiction will become science fact as humans leave the confines of the Earth-Moon system and make homes among the asteroids and planet Mars.

For more than one hundred years there has been popular talk of this next great adventure. Now, finally, we have the technology, motivation, and momentum. Private sector advances in fuel energy density, reusable spacecraft, and easily deployed habitations will make it economically feasible and technically possible to build communities on Mars.

SIMOC is a model of an isolated, scalable, human community located on a remote planet or moon. It provides a novel integration of a gaming interface with data from real-world, closed ecosystem studies at NASA. The goal of game play is to successfully expand a community over time, from an initial four astronauts to tens or hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. The intent is to mirror real world, emergent behavior of a complex system and learn from the outcomes.

At the core of SIMOC is a system to track breathable atmosphere, mass, and energy. Power is generated, new structures built, and food grown and processed. But not everything is under your control. Airlocks leak, crops fail, and solar panels are covered with dust. Preparation for new arrivals takes planning and months, even years of labor to build a storehouse of oxygen, water, and food while new structures are constructed from available, raw materials.


SIMOC offers two modes: Science Run and Game Play. In both a first-time user is guided through the Configuration Wizard where she selects from a list of pre-configured models or elects to custom configure the location of the habitat, such as in Earth orbit, on the Moon or Mars; the specific region, the launch date, and intended duration of the mission. The user also selects the intent of this community model: Exploration, Growth, or a Balance of the two.


Kai StaatsProject Lead

Judd BowmanAssociate Lead

Danny JacobsAssociate Lead

Sheri Klug BoonstraAssociate Lead

Don BoonstraEducational Lead

Ben McCordDeveloper

Greg SchoberthDeveloper

Thomas CurryDeveloper

Joey McCordEnvironmental Engineer

Christopher MurtaghSystems Administrator

Jake FedieWebsite Manager

Classroom Research

"Valley End" by Bryan Versteeg

SIMOC helps us explore the complex, interconnected nature of a closed ecosystem. Tightly coupled mechanical and biological systems are required to sustain human life in harsh, off-world environments.