A Space Analog for the Moon and Mars

Space Analog for the Moon and Mars at University of Arizona Biosphere 2 (photo courtesy of Kai Staats)

Sam Miller

The SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club is pleased to host Kai Staats, the director of Research for SAM, a Space Analog for the Moon and Mars at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, on Sunday, Oct. 8, at the DesertView Theater, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive, at 7 p.m. Staats is an entrepreneur, researcher, and veteran developer of platforms for research and science education. He will speak on his most recent work to develop the SAM environment. He and his team have constructed a high-fidelity, hermetically sealed Mars habitat analog with a greenhouse, living quarters, airlock, pressure suits, and half-acre indoor/outdoor Mars yard.

“When complete, SAM will include a half-acre Mars yard for pressure suit, tool use, and rover tests. SAM is not another open-air analog—this is as close as you can get to living on Mars without reducing gravity or dropping the temperature to -100°C. SAM will help us prepare for the challenges of living and working away from our home world, on the Moon and Mars. By isolating research teams in a sealed space for various periods of time, SAM provides a unique, powerful environment in which to conduct a multitude of studies in mechanical and plan-based life support, plant biology, bioregeneration, food studies, haptics, and tool exploration.” (Biosphere 2, samb2.space)

In parallel, Staats leads the development of SIMOC, a research-grade computer simulation and educational interface hosted by National Geographic that enables citizen scientists to explore the complexity of a human habitat on Mars.

Staats holds an MSc in applied mathematics from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he applied machine learning to the mitigation of anthropogenic noise in radio astronomy, worked for three years at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in data analysis, and was for 10 years CEO of the renowned Yellow Dog Linux operating system used extensively in the Department of Energy, NASA, and University research across a full spectrum of sciences. Staats is also the principal designer of the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory in Tanzania, the first of its kind in East Africa.

The SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club meets monthly (and typically) on the second Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at the DesertView Theater. The fall Star Parties are scheduled on Wednesday, Oct. 18; Tuesday, Nov. 14; and Thursday, Dec. 14, at the softball field parking lot. The public is welcome to both meetings and Star Parties. Club and Star Party information can be obtained by emailing Sam Miller at [email protected].