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IN THIS ISSUE

PoSSUM successfully captures noctilucent cloud data from research aircraft Project PoSSUM graduates twelve scientist-astronaut candidates as part of PoSSUM Class 1701 The Extremes of Aerospace Environment: A Project PoSSUM forum with Astronaut Winston Scott and Aviation Legend Patty Wagstaff An astronaut, artist, and scientists held a public PoSSUM forum at Embry-Riddle to discuss how art enables science communication

PoSSUM completes ‘Spacecraft Egress and Rescue Operations’ course in preparation for post-landing testing of Spacesuits PMC-Turbo camera system integrated to Super-TIGER for Antarctic balloon mission this December PoSSUM graduates to participate in new citizen-science program to evaluate Extra-Vehicular Activity spacesuits ‘Space Medicine and Extreme Environments’ course introduced PoSSUM introduces the ‘Applied Astronautics Program’


PoSSUM Successfully Captures Noctilucent Cloud Data from Research Aircraft

PoSSUM Flight crew consisting of Mission Specialist Casey Stedman, payload specialist Dr. Shawna Pandya, and pilot Dr. Jason Reimuller on a sortie to investigate NLC structures.

Last July, a team of 17 Project PoSSUM team scientists and scientistastronaut candidates spent two weeks in the remote town of High Level in northern Alberta, Canada as part of a flight research team that was deployed to study noctilucent clouds from a research aircraft and two ground stations, each specially equipped with scientific camera systems. These rare clouds form in polar regions at altitudes of 50 miles and are believed to be sensitive indicators of man-made climate change and good proxies of low-density atmospheres such as that of Mars. The cameras will later be used for a high-altitude balloon campaign over Antarctica in December to study these clouds and later to fly through them in manned suborbital spacecraft, such as Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two.

On each night, PoSSUM teams deployed to two ground stations: the ‘High Level’ station in the town of High Level, and the ‘Wood Buffalo’ station, located 200km to the east by the Wood Buffalo National Park. From 24

June to 8 July, a total of six sorties were flown along carefully-constructed flight plans to altitudes of 21,000ft; the rare clouds were observed on four of these flights and the data obtained was coordinated with data observed by PoSSUM teams at two remote ground stations. By carefully coordinating the flights with two ground stations, the team hopes to build tomography or three-dimensional images of the fine internal structures of the clouds from which turbulence and instabilities in the upper atmosphere may be better understood. Much of what the PoSSUM astronautcandidates have learned during their initial PoSSUM training was applied to this first field campaign. Flying at 23,000 feet in an unpressurized research aircraft is a challenging proposition and mission team members must be keenly aware of the effects of hypoxia. Flights will also require precise navigation, effective communications and crew resource management techniques, as well as an intimate knowledge of the cameras and their control systems.


The PoSSUM team was divided into payload specialists and mission specialists. The payload specialists operated specialized camera system designed for noctilucent cloud observations that have been constructed by the PoSSUM team in collaboration with Columbia University in New York, NY. The mission specialists carefully planned waypoints so that the aircraft observes the same features as the two ground stations.

PoSSUM scientist-astronaut training to this research campaign, as each flight required precise navigation, effective communications and crew resource management techniques, and an intimate knowledge of the cameras and their control systems. Every minute of flight along the pre-determined flight path came at the expense of many hours of preparations, and each flight sortie learned from the lessons of the previous: camera exposure and sequencing techniques were optimized, means to eliminate jitter was progressively mitigated, and teams better characterized the effects of the windows and filters the cameras were looking through.

There was a strong analogy between the aircraft research teams and the simulated suborbital missions the students practiced while at Embry-Riddle. “The air crew and both ground teams were observing the same region of sky; we wanted to demonstrate tomographic techniques to view cloud structures in 3D and also determine how altitude can improve our ability to study noctilucent clouds.” explained PoSSUM command pilot Dr. Jason Reimuller, “Further, the imagers deployed were designed for the NASA-funded ‘PMC-Turbo’ balloon mission designed to study these clouds, and the PoSSUM observations helped validate these instruments on actual noctilucent cloud structures.”

“The first night we arrived presented a good flight opportunity, and teams had little time to rest before their midnight departure.” Reimuller said, “Flying along the 58th parallel, the remoteness of northern Alberta created a darkness that made it difficult to fly with any visual reference, but as fortune had it, we were greeted by an intense display of noctilucent clouds that intermingled with aurora. For many of the PoSSUM graduates, it was the first time they had the opportunity to experience these clouds in person.”

Coordinating closely with each ground station, the teams devised a method where all camera stations could target the same region of interest in real-time. The PoSSUM students directly applied the skills they obtained during their

Obtained at an altitude over 50% of the Earth’s atmosphere, the aircraft observations demonstrated sharper images and a significant increase in contrasts between clouds and sky,

PoSSUM ‘Red Sprite’ research team poses before a flight


PoSSUM ‘Blue Jet’ research team stands under an intense noctilucent cloud display the morning of 4 July, 2017

producing a compelling case for more comprehensive observations from higher altitudes in subsequent PoSSUM campaigns. Next year, the PoSSUM team plans to coordinate its aircraft observations with balloon-based observations from the NASA-funded PMC-Turbo mission, which will follow a groundtrack over north Canada in July, and ground based observations from a network maintained by Athabasca University.

“Flying at these altitudes in the remote Canadian wilderness at night requires careful mission planning and the crew must be well trained to function effectively in such an environment,” explained PoSSUM Executive Director and command pilot Dr. Jason Reimuller. “For many of the team members, this is as close to an actual space mission as you can get.”

A series of videos was produced during the campaign and may be viewed on the PoSSUM website: http://projectpossum.org/research/airborne-nlc-tomography/

PoSSUM ‘Blue Jet’ research team stands under an intense noctilucent cloud display the morning of 4 July, 2017 th

Monochromatic panoramic picture of the great July 4 NLC display taken from the High Level ground station with a commercial camera (Sony a7rII) recreating the view taken with PMC-turbo at 135mm


Project PoSSUM Graduates Twelve Scientist-Astronaut Candidates as part of PoSSUM Class 1701

On 15 April 2017, Project PoSSUM graduated twelve new Scientist-Astronaut Candidates as part of PoSSUM ScientistAstronaut Class 1701. Additionally, PoSSUM graduated nine students as part of the Advanced PoSSUM Academy, a preparatory program designed for undergraduate students. Contributing to PoSSUM Class 1701 were retired NASA astronauts Winston Scott and Nicole Stott, world-champion aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff, and Sci-Art Exchange Executive Director Dr. Jancy McPhee.

of extreme aerospace environments, and the necessity of human components and artistic expression to communicate science.” commented PoSSUM Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller. “These are all essential elements of the PoSSUM mission.”

Each student completed an intense training curriculum that covers atmospheric science, remote sensing, celestial mechanics, particle scattering, spaceflight physiology and PoSSUM instrument operations. In addition, the students received comprehensive spacesuit training, mission simulation training, high-altitude and hypoxia awareness training, and aerospace physiology training in analog flight conditions.

The new PoSSUM graduates will become involved with existing research programs to study the upper-atmosphere, evaluate IVA and EVA spacesuits, and participate in educational outreach and technology development programs in preparation for airborne and suborbital research missions. This summer, PoSSUM graduates will image noctilucent clouds from research aircraft in Northern Alberta with cameras designed for a highaltitude balloon campaign over Antarctica later this year. This October the PoSSUM team will conduct the first visor-down, zero-G parabolic flight tests in Ottawa, Ontario as well as test the ability of the suit to perform a variety of postlanding contingency operations as part of the PoSSUM Bioastronautics Program.

The twelve graduating candidates of ScientistAstronaut Class 1701 include Kristen Sanfilippo of Pensacola, FL.; Scott Ritter of Philadelphia, Penn.; Angel Samalot of Waco, Tex.; Keith Crooker of Burnsville, Minn.; Nirvani Umadat of Winnepeg, Manitoba; Stephan Guenther of Liechlingen, Germany; Matt Harasymczuk of Katwijk aan Zee, Poland; Trent Tresch of Stanwood, Wash., Maryam Nabavi of Toronto, Ont.; Renee Garifi of Huntsville, Ala.; Ryan Kobrick of Daytona Beach, FL.; and Jose Hurtado of El Paso, Tex.

“The practical experience that Capt. Winston Scott, Patty Wagstaff, and Nicole Stott contributed greatly helped these PoSSUM students appreciate the complexities of spacesuit operations, the physiological strains

PoSSUM Graduates of Scientist-Astronaut Class 1701 pose with NASA astronaut Capt. Winston Scott and aviation legend Patty Wagstaff.


The Extremes of Aerospace Environment: A Project PoSSUM forum with Astronaut Winston Scott and Aviation Legend Patty Wagstaff

Project PoSSUM held a public forum at Embry-Riddle titled The Extremes of Aerospace Environment at the College of Aviation Atrium, featuring Astronaut Winston Scott and worldchampion airshow pilot Patty Wagstaff. The discussion focused on spacewalks, high-Gs, and STEM outreach as part of PoSSUM’s ScientistAstronaut Candidate Class 1701.

Captain Scott was a former NASA astronaut and served as a mission specialist on STS-72 in 1996 and STS-87 in 1997, and has logged a total of 24 days, 14 hours and 34 minutes in space, including 3 spacewalks totaling 19 hours and 26 minutes. Capt. Scott shared his experience in EVA spacesuits and how that experience might influence the design and safe operation of commercial EVA spacesuits, such as those that will soon be tested by Project PoSSUM members.

Patty Wagstaff is a six-time member of the US Aerobatic Team and has won the gold, silver and bronze medals in Olympic-level international aerobatic competition. She is the first woman to win the title of US National Aerobatic champion and one of the few people to win it three times. Patty talked about her experiences in the physical conditioning needed for extreme physiological stresses of aerobatic competition.

“Airshow competition has taught me a lot about physical adaptation and about being able to concentrate in high-g loads.”, said Wagstaff, “This is experience I hope might be relevant to those preparing to do Project PoSSUM space research in high-G.”


An astronaut, artist, and scientists held a public PoSSUM forum at Embry-Riddle to discuss how art enables science communication

An interdisciplinary and public forum titled ‘Project PoSSUM and the Art of Science Communication’, focused on how astronautics enables science communication through human stories and artistic interpretation, was held at Embry Riddle and hosted by Project PoSSUM. The forum coincided with Scientist-Astronaut Class 1701 and included artist, retired astronaut and Embry-Riddle alum Nicole Stott, neuroscientist and SciArt Exchange Executive Director Dr. Jancy McPhee, Project PoSSUM Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller, and Embry-Riddle mathematician and composer Dr. Greg Spradlin.

“PoSSUM is making novel measurements of noctilucent clouds from aircraft, high-altitude balloon, and soon suborbital spacecraft,” said Reimuller. “We are observing the most sensitive part of our planet in ways never seen before, and these observations enable new ways for both scientific analysis and artistic interpretation. Scientific analysis helps us better address fundamental

questions of our atmosphere; artistic interpretation allows these insights to be communicated in many ways to many different communities”.

The forum was part of a PoSSUM course titled “SciArts and Science Communication”, a collaborative effort between Project PoSSUM and the SciArt Exchange that is instructed by Dr. Jancy McPhee and teaches students how to best express science through art. The initial class saw Project PoSSUM students Patricia Meder, Chris Lundeen, Pritpal Singh, and Harvey Waters find a common expression of art designed to communicate an element of PoSSUM research.

“Really wonderful things happen through the integration of art and science,” said Stott, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees at EmbryRiddle. “I look forward to this PoSSUM program discussion on The Art of Science Communication as we explore this SciArt topic.”


PoSSUM Completes Spacecraft Egress and Rescue Operations course in preparation for Post-Landing testing of Spacesuits Last April, Dr. Aaron Persad, Dr. Sarah Jane Pell, Brien Posey, and Matt Haracymczuk became the most recent graduates of ‘Spacecraft Egress and Rescue Operations’. Offered by Integrated Spaceflight Services, this course is the first professional education course on the landing and post-landing phase of manned spacecraft missions and available exclusively to Project PoSSUM graduates in partnership with Survival Systems USA in Groton, CT. The course covers nominal and contingency landing scenarios, post-landing planning, rescue and recovery architecture design, egress systems and operational procedures, deconditioning and post-landing survivability, generalized egress skills, and emergency egress bottle use.

These graduates will join PoSSUM’s existing corps of researchers interested in space mission design and contingency operations. From 7-10 April 2018, a PoSSUM team will conduct the first phase of evaluations of the Final Frontier IVA spacesuit in nominal and offnominal post-landing environments. The PoSSUM graduates will test the functionality of parachute release, Life Preserver Unit (LPU) usage, and snorkel functionality in varying sea and lighting conditions. The graduates will also learn the effective use of radios, beacons, signal flares, and other signaling devices in water and egress bottle use for egress operations. This training is required for PoSSUM Candidates interested in high-altitude research flights scheduled for Summer 2018.

PMC-Turbo Camera System integrated to Super-TIGER for Antarctic Balloon Mission this December PoSSUM partner researchers at Columbia University traveled to Palestine, TX from 24-28 July to integrate one of the eight specialized camera systems designed and constructed partly by Project PoSSUM members for the NASA-funded ‘PMC Turbo’ mission onto the gondola supporting the SuperTiger mission. Super TIGER (‘Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder’) is a structure jammed with electronics that will be hitched to a huge, atmospheric balloon and launched in December over Antarctica. It will rise to 120-130 thousand feet and stay there for 30-45 days measuring cosmic ray elements from massive stars in our galaxy that exploded and sent particles zipping through Earth's atmosphere. The mission will host the PMCTurbo camera and launch this December for a two-week mission around the Antarctic polar vortex, where the camera will image fine structures of noctilucent clouds from altitudes approaching 40km. The test will not only obtain

novel imagery of the clouds fine structures but also validate the imagery technology for the full PMC-Turbo mission, which will fly seven of these specialized, environmentally controlled camera systems together with a lidar system provided by the German space agency for a two-week circumpolar mission dedicated to investigating the micro-features of noctilucent cloud structures.


PoSSUM graduates to participate in new citizen-science program to evaluate Extra-Vehicular Spacesuits Co-developed with Final Frontier Design, Project OTTER (‘Operational Tools and Techniques of Exoplanetary Research’) provides a practical education for the professional interested in Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Spacesuit Operations. Learn about Martian and lunar geology, space medicine, saturation diving, life support systems, spaceflight physiology, and EVA in analog microgravity, terrestrial and underwater environments! All PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates and Advanced PoSSUM Academy graduates are eligible to enroll in Project OTTER research and education programs. Additionally, students wishing to participate in underwater analog EVA research to be offered in Summer 2018 are required to complete OTTER saturation diving and space medicine courses.

Space Medicine Introduced

and

Extreme

Last July, a new course was introduced to provide some background for PoSSUM graduates interested in becoming involved with EVA Spacesuits. Instructed by PoSSUM ScientistAstronaut Candidate Dr. Shawna Pandya, this novel course introduces students to topics of space medicine, wilderness medicine, human performance, leadership and psychological resilience. The course will dedicate a special focus to extreme environment and wilderness medicine, and how the spaceflight environments may inform triage and first aid scenarios. The on-site portion of this class will focus on wilderness medicine in extreme environments, culminating with triage instruction with scenarios and skills pertaining to wilderness medicine.

Environments

Course


PoSSUM Introduces the Applied Astronautics Program This summer, Project PoSSUM introduced the PoSSUM Applied Astronautics Program, the only program of its type in the world. The 21-credit immersive professional education program currently under the accreditation process, focuses on aeronomy reserach, bioastronautics research, space mission design, spaceflight operations, and science education. The Applied Astronautics Program is open to all PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates and Advanced PoSSUM Academy graduates and students have the option of selecting two research tracks from four topics, including aeronomy, bioastronautics, science education, and extravehicular activity. A final advanced research elective will involve the student in a thesis research project. A list of classes comprising the program follow:

Core Classes AST 101: Advanced PoSSUM Academy BIO 102: Spacecraft Egress and Rescue Operations EDU 101: Fundamentals of Citizen Science and Research Aeronomy Concentration AER 101: Suborbital Space Environment AER 103: Airborne Remote Sensing of Noctilucent Clouds Bioastronautics Concentration BIO 101: Spaceflight Physiology BIO 103: Microgravity Spacesuit Evaluation Science Education Concentration EDU102: Spacesuit and Simulator Technician Qualification Course EDU 104: Sci-Arts and Science Communication AER 102: Celestial Mechanics Extravehicular Activity Concentration EVA 101: Space Medicine and Extreme Environments EVA 102: Fundamentals of Saturation Diving and EVA Operations Advanced Research Electives BIO 104: Advanced Egress – Spacesuit Post-Landing Testing EDU 103: PoSSUM Instructor Qualification Program EVA 103: Lunar and Martian Geology and Analog EVA EVA 104: Underwater EVA Suit Operations EVA 105: Life Support Systems


Applications for PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1702 and Advanced PoSSUM Academy are now being accepted Please note the deadline is 15 August 2017 for these two courses to be held at EmbryRiddle. Interested individuals should apply online at projectpossum.org.

The Project PoSSUM News (Summer 2017)  

In this issue: PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut candidates successfully capture noctilucent cloud data from research aircraft. PoSSUM hosts 'The E...

The Project PoSSUM News (Summer 2017)  

In this issue: PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut candidates successfully capture noctilucent cloud data from research aircraft. PoSSUM hosts 'The E...

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