The role of the simulator is to ensure the realism of the simulation. They are the only members of Spacesim who may break The Golden Rule. They are given this privilege to help everyone else with suspension of belief. The Simulator Hierarchy consists only of the rank of Simulator Commander. This is a Mission-Specific rank, and the holder of the rank is ideally kept secret along with the identities of all the other simulators. This helps to keep Mission Integrity, because in the Beta reality Simulators do not exist.
The Average Simulator Day
From a basic standpoint, the simulators are responsible for ensuring that the environmental conditions of space are experienced by the astronauts. Perhaps the most impressive undertaking of the Simulators' is the Planetary Surface, which must reflect the conditions of the mission destination. For example, if research showed the destination to be windy, then the simulators will ensure wind is experienced. If the planet is unstable, then earthquakes will be experienced. The actual activities of the simulator group vary from year to year, depending on the conditions of the destination.
EmergenciesAstronauts must work with Mission Control to resolve. Common issues are Ion Storms (which would knock out electronics or cause radio silence) and Meteor Strikes (which may cause damage or hull breaches to the Habitat). More complicated issues have included volcano eruptions, water floods of the surface and habitat, earthquakes, reactor coolant leaks, and out-right equipment breakdown requiring repair. During one mission, the The Hawking crash-landed beside The New Habitat.
One of the earliest recorded incidents involving simulators is known as the Pink Water Incident. The astronauts' water supply became contaminated (and appeared pink). The astronauts were required to perform tests upon the water to determine if it was safe.
During training missions and Revenge Missions the simulators have more freedom and typically resort to less scientific situations, such as terrorist attacks in Mission Control and other such disasters to break up the monotony of a mission. Some of the more creative simulator stunts have involved aliens.
The methods used by simulators is strictly classified. This lasts beyond the mission; Simulators of the past reportedly remain secretive regarding their methods for years afterwards.
Historically, the Simulator task force was a secret one. Known only to the Mission Control Commander, who was usually a simulator, they would often occupy Mission Control positions, possibly causing sabotage right under everyone's noses. It was also helpful for the simulators to have 'planted' Mission Control staff during a planned emergency, as that way if the regular staff couldn't come up with a solution, the planted staff could simply appear more creative.
Simulators have been known to infiltrate as high as copilot.
In the past few years, the members of the simulator group were well known to most Spacesim members. Lately, there has been a move to return to keeping the members of this group secret from the rest of Spacesim.
Main article: Hab Gnomes
Simulators have been referred to as "Hab Gnomes" before. Although this designation is incorrect, astronauts persist in using "Hab gnome" to describe any simulator that they have caught "in the act".