What balance of mechanical and biological systems will be required to sustain human life in a growing, off-world habitat?

Built upon decades of NASA research and data, and current investigations into mechanical and biological life support systems, SIMOC provides an environment in which researchers and citizen scientists alike can explore possible solutions.

SIMOC is an interactive model of a scalable, human community located on a remote planet or moon. It provides a novel integration of an agent-based model built upon data from real-world, closed ecosystem studies at NASA and universities world-wide with a platform for research, citizen science, and game play. The goal is to design a habitat that sustains human life through a combination of physio-chemical (machine) and bioregenerative (plant) systems.

Sound simple? Science fiction has made it look far too easy with airlocks that never require decompression, food materializing out of thin air, and terraforming in a matter of hours, not thousands of years. In the real cosmos, living off-world is far more challenging. Finding a balance of machines, plants, algae, and humans is a complex endeavor. The slightest incongruity in waste management, power production, or CO2 scrubbing can result in catastrophic failure and abandonment of the habitat, or worse.

While research analogs have for more than 50 years conducted research in this field, the solutions for living in space remain heavily biased toward mechanical systems, machines and freeze-dried food to keep the humans alive. This is not a long-term solution, not if we desire to move off this planet and establish new homes among the stars. SIMOC is a place to experiment, test theories and make mistakes, and to explore.

What is the best balance of physio-chemical and bioregenerative systems? What can we learn about the resources required to effectively scale a habitat tens of millions of kilometers from home? What systems will self-sustain while others break down?

Perhaps you will find the answers …

A still of the 3D environment in which SIMOC users visualize their designed habitat

Current Progress

Well into Phase III, the SIMOC development team is preparing for debut launches with partners National Geographic Society and the Arizona Science Center this summer.

February and March saw a 28 days experiment in plant growth study at the world-famous Biosphere 2, outside of Oracle Arizona. SIMOC project lead Kai Staats lived on-site for the duration of the experiment that captured light, temperature, relative humidity, CO2, and biomass for the full growth cycle of barley fodder. To learn more and view photographs, visit https://simoc.space/blog/.

We have completed the redesign and rebuild of the Configuration Wizard upon a highly flexible, scalable code foundation, with both a Novice and Advanced configuration. The dashboard is now being rebuilt, based upon the same, new code base that supports the Wizard.

The Agent-Based Model (ABM) is now highly programmable by means of the JSON file settings. Most important is introduction of non-linear (normal, log, sigmoid, exp) functions to describe plant growth and respiration cycles as close as possible to the real world.

With the close of May 2019 and the Phase III development cycle, SIMOC will enjoy a more robust back-end server, improved performance and stability.

Stay tuned!


Kai Staats Project Lead

Sheri Klung Boonstra Associate Lead

Danny Jacobs Associate Lead

Don Boonstra Educational Lead

Iurii Milovanov Developer

Greg Schoberth Developer

Sinéad Walsh Developer

Thomas Curry Developer

Tyler Cox Beta Tester, Documentation

Bryan Versteeg Habitat Architect and 3D Artist

Christopher Murtagh Systems Administrator

Jake Fedie Website Manager