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The SubSim software is the Quick Basic program that controls the submersible craft Laura. It was introduced to the club in 2009-10 for Mission Daedalus by Dr. James Magwood, who adapted it from a submarine warfare program that he had written while a PhD student. Consequentially, this software still includes unidentified objects, which in the original program were enemy Russian submarines. The software is perhaps most notable for its optional 3D graphical display of the ocean floor; creating a 3D graphical display in Quick Basic was the act that finally convinced most members that Dr. Magwood is, in fact, God.


The SubSim Software's engine functions are much the same as in the Orbit software. Laura has a left engine and a right engine, each of which can be run at up to 100% capacity and in the opposite direction at 100% capacity (signified in the program with -100%), as well as a centre engine which is also reversible. It has bow and stern planes which can be adjusted to allow the water to flow either under or over the submarine and push it up or down, respectively, and these can be raised or lowered in increments of degrees up to 90 and down to -90. Similarly, its rudder has the same funcionality; this is one example of the smooth fashion in which the program deals with transportation in three dimensions. The software accounts for ballast, which can be ejected from either side or drawn into either side to function as an air bladder. The program also allows Laura, through the use of a fathmometer, to chart what she meets in her travels through alien oceans and to determine the distance, using sonar, between herself and any other objects in the water. The sonar also allows Laura to track consistent sources of sound: possible signs of alien habitation, and the sonar accounts for thermal layers. The program allows Laura to take up to six samples of water, and it also tracks collisions such that if she collides with objects she will spring dangerous leaks. Images on the display allow the user to track information in three dimensions, with animations showing an image of the submarine's pitch and a compass showing its yaw. Given its 360 degree functionality, the submarine's roll is unimportant.

Use to Date

The software was used once on Mission Daedalus, but only briefly; the mission's late launch date coupled with the desire for more EVAs led the software to be brushed aside. Members then attempted to use it on one training mission, but that mission was cut short and the submarine could not be deployed. SubSim was also used on Mission Dragan, to investigate an anomaly in Europa's ocean. The software is used so infrequently because of the limited number of places in the solar system where it is useful; recent examples of locations where astronauts can go on EVAs and can deploy a submarine are Europa and Enceladus. There have been discussions about deploying the submarine in oceans of methane, but the pseudoscience would have to be worked out and the astronauts would have to have some reason to go on EVA.

The software was used for several shifts on Silver Seas 2018 in the oceans of Enceladus.