In this episode we are joined by Kai Staats. Kai is a veteran developer, designer, filmmaker, and scientist. Kai is the Director of SAM, Space Analog for the Moon and Mars, here at Biosphere 2. SAM is a hi-fidelity, hermetically sealed Mars habitat analog with greenhouse, living quarters, airlock, pressure suits, and a half acre Mars yard. Since 2021 Kai and his team have been constructing SAM, and just last month, SAM hosted it’s first two sealed missions, Inclusion 1 and Inclusion 2.
Prior to SAM, Kai was co-founder and CEO of the world-renowned Yellow Dog Linux operating system for ten years. The YDL platform was used extensively in Department of Energy, NASA, and University research across a full spectrum of sciences. Kai also designed and developed iConji, an icon-based language for international communication. Further, he wrote the machine learning algorithm Karoo GP which has been used at LIGO for classification of glitches and supernovae. Kai was principal designer of the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory in Tanzania, the first of its kind in East Africa. At Arizona State University Kai led 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.
In this podcast, Kai takes us on his journey to build SAM. Breaking down the inspiration for SAM’s creation, and the research goals for SAM’s future.