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project possum news

24 PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates test space suits and bio-monitoring systems in microgravity wtih the National Research Council of Canada. These systems have since been flown to the International Space Station with Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques.

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PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates Test Novel Space Suits and Biometric Monitoring Systems in Zero-G with the National Research Council of Canada Ottawa, Ont. – The National Research Council of Canada’s Flight Research Laboratory in Ottawa, Ontario recently completed its fourth microgravity flight campaign with Project PoSSUM, a non-profit citizen-science astronautics research organization with members from 37 countries. Such parabolic flights provide an opportunity to test in a weightless environment simulating that of space. This campaign boasted eight individual research experiments with eleven involved organizations over a span of four flights throughout the second week of October. Among these were Final Frontier Design, testing an affordable alternative to current intra-vehicular activity (IVA) spacesuits, and the Canadian Space Agency’s Bio-Monitoring garment system which was launched last Monday to the International Space Station with the Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques. Project PoSSUM invited undergrads, grads, professors, professionals from industry, and also the Canadian Space Agency to take part in crafting experiments for the campaign. This approach led to a gamut of topics being studied: from fluid mechanics, to planetary sciences, to life support systems, which are hoped to lead to novel discoveries and applications for space and earth. Additionally, the ability to test performance within a pressurized space suit in microgravity demonstrates a unique capability that Project PoSSUM has matured since it began conducting such citizen-science research in 2015. The Canadian Space Agency and the National Research Council have shown great interest in space suit testing, which can often be limited by the inaccessibility to specialized space hardware. These flights mark the fourth successful campaign in which Final Frontier Design space suits have been evaluated in microgravity by Project PoSSUM researchers. Each of the four flights supported two test subjects, one wearing a space suit and one without, who performed specific tasks while monitoring and supporting experiments during flight. Experiments included the testing of IVA space suits, evaluation of Bio-monitoring garment systems, solid body rotation experiments, fluid cell

PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidate Dr. Shawna Pandya demonstrates placement of bio-monitoring sensors integral to the CSA system.

experiments observing equilibrium states, a vacuum chamber containing to asteroid-like material to test new techniques and methods of anchoring and gripping to an asteroid’s surface, an augmented reality headset testing disorientation in weightlessness, a food behavior experiment, and wave propagation studies through simulated dust of planetary bodies. The Canadian Space Agency has been assessing the invasiveness and comfort of the Bio-Monitoring garment system sensors to minimize disruptions to astronaut workload and the PoSSUM tests marked the first time that wireless bio-sensing patches have been tested in microgravity. The sensors registered the stresses by monitoring characteristics such as pulse and blood pressure, breathing rate, and blood oxygen saturation levels.

PoSSUM Tests Food Preparation in Microgravity with Mission Space Food Cooking food in outer space is no easy feat. While space tourism and human missions to the Moon and to Mars are becoming a reality, preparing delicious meals to serve to astronauts and space tourists has never before been attempted; however, Mission: Space Food, LLC (MSF) has a mandate to create delicious food for space travel and is inventing the technology to enable Michelin star dining in weightlessness in order to make meals a more enticing experience for space crews. There are interesting new tools that need to be developed in order to cook food in reduced gravity. For example, open skillets won’t in space work because the food and oils will free float everywhere. Even simple cooking tasks are not easily performed in space: How do you flip a burger? How do you sprinkle on salt? How do you pour gravy? The CEO of MSF, Shahreen Reza, believes that these problems can all be solved, with some culinary ingenuity and scientific experimentation, and has partnered with Project PoSSUM to fly its food and equipment in reduced gravity. Last October, MSF participated in Project’s PoSSUM Phase V Parabolic Flight campaign with the National Research Council of Canada and Integrated Spaceflight Services, LLC. The purpose of the MSF experiment was to gain experience and intuition of how everyday food items behave in near freefall in order to start designing space cookware, utensils, and recipes. The MSF payload was developed by Dr. Aaron H. Persad, an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The payload consisted of a modified transparent plastic desiccant container into which food items were placed. A GoPro camera was used to record the behaviour of the food items during the 2G-0G-2G transitions aboard the NRC's Flacon-20 reduced gravity aircraft. Reza says that, “food items for this payload were carefully selected for their shapes, structures, texture, color, and moisture content: grape tomatoes, raw broccoli, strands of baby carrots, cuts of red and green peppers, a slice of lemon, croutons, and a serving of soft egg noodle.” The payload made for the most colorful payload aboard the aircraft. Dr. Persad’s hypothesis is that "wet" food items (i.e., sliced peppers, carrots, lemon slice,) would stick to the container due to the adhesion force of water, but “dry” items (such as raw broccoli, croutons and grape tomatoes) would free float and bounce off the walls. The noodles, he hypothesized, would stay aggregated since the strands were likely intertwined (i.e. interlocked). In the actual flight, some interesting, and even surprising results, were made: during a full parabola maneuver, the food items were described by the PoSSUM flight crew as appearing as though they were in a blender. The GoPro footage shows that the grape tomatoes and croutons were the first to “free float”, but negative-g’s (i.e. downward acceleration of the aircraft) in the parabolic maneuver forced those items against the top container lid. The noodles stayed aggregated, but also acted as a net catching some crouton bits and green beans preventing them from free floating too far on their own. Surprisingly, the lemon slice also free floated, perhaps because it wasn’t moist enough to adhere strongly to the container. Another surprise was how strongly the carrots remained stuck to the bottom of the container: the carrots were the only food items to not free float, even in negative-g. The MSF team hopes to use these newly found results to design innovative culinary experiences in the weightless environment. The next MSF payload is scheduled to fly in Project PoSSUM’s next flight campaign in October 2019 from Ottawa, Canada.

PMC-Turbo Camera Flies over Antarctica to image noctilucent cloud dynamics McMurdo, Antarctica - NASA’s PMC Turbo Mission, a $1.4M NASA-funded high-altitude balloon experiment led by PoSSUM Chief Scientist Dr. Dave Fritts, continued its success with a follow-on launch of one of its seven camera systems as a piggyback experiment onboard NASA’s SuperTIGER mission. After a circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent, the PMC-Turbo camera was successfully recovered on the Ross Ice Sheet. The team hopes that the imagery obtained of noctilucent clouds will help scientists compare the small-scale dynamics and signatures of turbulence and instability visible in the mesosphere over the southern polar region with those obtained in the northern hemisphere throughout last July’s successful PMC-Turbo mission. “Dynamics of the mesosphere are largely driven by gravity waves that transport energy from the lower atmosphere and break in the upper atmosphere, much like waves on a beach’, said PoSSUM Executive Director and PMC-Turbo Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Jason Reimuller, “The differences in the topography and weather patterns in the Antarctic region can produce a different climate in the mesosphere than observed in the northern polar region” The host payload, called the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER), is designed to study rare heavy nuclei, which hold clues about where and how cosmic rays attain speeds up to nearly the speed of light. Last July, PMC-Turbo launched from Kiruna, Sweden and landed safely in Western Nunavut, Canada five days later after successfully performing the first dedicated high-altitude observations of the atmospheric dynamics leading to turbulence in Earth’s mesosphere. The PMC-Turbo camera systems are able to image mesospheric dynamics by imaging the small-scale structures of noctilucent clouds using specialized camera systems. Noctilucent clouds (also known as Polar Mesospheric Clouds, or PMCs, when viewed from space) are the highest clouds observed on Earth, typically forming at altitudes near 83km in the summertime at high latitudes in both hemispheres. They are of particular interest as their presence is believed to be a “miner’s canary” for climate change at high altitudes.

PMC-Turbo Camera being recovered along with host experiment, SuperTIGER, over the Ross Ice Sheet in Antarctica.

PoSSUM Introduces the PoSSUM 13 Project to inspire young women in STEM Boulder, Colo. – Boulder Colo. – Project PoSSUM announced today the formation of a new PoSSUM educational outreach program. Thirteen PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates and Advanced Academy PoSSUM graduates have joined forces to create the "PoSSUM 13", a space education and advocacy effort created to honor the legacy of the Mercury 13. The PoSSUM 13 will serve as global ambassadors in increasing opportunity and engagement for students - and especially young women - who have a passion for space science and exploration. Through a combination of educational outreach initiatives and mentorship, the PoSSUM 13 will serve as ambassadors of PoSSUM’s citizen science efforts.

To introduce the inaugural year, Project PoSSUM will commit three payload slots for student experiments onboard the National Research Council’s Falcon 20 microgravity research aircraft for this October's PoSSUM microgravity research campaign. PoSSUM will also commit one slot for a winning student to fly onboard the aircraft and oversee the student experiments. New PoSSUM 13 members will be selected annually. The inaugural members of PoSSUM 13 include Yvette Gonzalez of Miami, Fla; Heidi Hammerstein of Pembroke, Ga.; Shawna Pandya of Sherwood Park, Alba.; Norah Patten of Dublin, Ireland; Kellie Gerardi of Washington D.C.; Carmen Felix of Leiden, Netherlands; Yajaira Sierra-Sastre of Rockville, Md.; Karen Brun of Oscoda, Mich; Alyssa Carson of Baton Rouge, La.; Ulyana Horodyskyj of Boulder, Colo.; Shayla Givens of Kathleen, Ga.; The PoSSUM 13 will work to inspire Anima Patil-Sabale of San Ramon, Calif.; and Amy Ramos of Daytona and educate young women in STEM fields (above). Beach, Fla. Please contact Project PoSSUM if you would like to request one of the PoSSUM 13 members to talk to your school or classroom. Additionally, the PoSSUM 13 welcomes tax-deductible donations to Project PoSSUM which may be made to specifically support the PoSSUM 13 mission.

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The women of PoSSUM Class 1801 and Advanced PoSSUM Academy show off their ‘Right Stuff’ with world champion aviator Patty Wagstaff (below).

Project PoSSUM Partners with the ‘Out Astronaut Project’ to address under-representation of the LGBTQ community in STEM fields Boulder, Colo. - The OutAstronaut Project was founded to address under-representation of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trangender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. According to prideinstem.org, more than 40 percent of LGBTQ people in STEM are not ‘out’ and gay and bisexual students are less likely to follow an academic career. Presently, there are few out STEM professionals serving as role models to LGBTQ youth. One example of this is the fact that of the 561 individuals that have been selected as astronauts or cosmonauts, none have ever identified openly as a member of the LGBTQ community. PoSSUM believes that communities are empowered when they are represented. Last month, the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences has donated a grant to the OutAstronaut Project for a winning contestant in a merit-based competition ito attend the October 2019 Advanced PoSSUM Academy class. The project then intends to train an exceptional LGBTQ student to fly to space to conduct relevant reserach while highlighting the contributions of current LGBTQ members making contributions in science and space. The project will be released by 15 March at outastronaut.org.

Eleven Scientist-Astronaut Candidates graduate in PoSSUM Class 1802 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Project PoSSUM graduated eleven new Scientist-Astronaut Candidates as part of PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1802. Additionally, PoSSUM graduated fifteen students as part of the Advanced PoSSUM Academy, a preparatory program designed for undergraduate students. 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. Class 1802 was unique in that the class had the ability to test some emerging virtual reality technologies in buoyancy, a first collaborative step with a company that will supply virtual and augmented reality technologies to the OTTER EVA space suit test and development program in which many PoSSUM graduates will become involved. “It is always humbling to see the capabilities and motivations of the individuals that commit themselves to the PoSSUM program and its mission” commented PoSSUM Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller. “By emphasizing diversity and internationalism, we encourage and embrace everyone to participate in the process of conducting, publishing, and communicating professional peer-reviewed science.” The eleven graduating candidates of Scientist-Astronaut Class 1802 include Carlos Salicrup Diaz de Leon of Mexico City, Mexico; Cristophe Lamaison of Pyrénées Atlàtiques, France; Tatsunari Tomiyama of Melbourne, Fla.; Bethany Downer of South Holland, Netherlands; Michael Curcio of Alexandria, Va.; Ana Pires de Oliveira of Lourosa, Portugal; Sean Thompson of Windsor, Conn., Lycourgos Manolopoulos of Hagerstown, Md.; Omar Eduardo Rodriguez of Queensland, Australia; Veronika Puisa of Luton, United Kingdom; and Stephen Daire of LaFayette, N.J.

PoSSUM’s Scientist-Astronaut Class 1802

Project OTTER Completes Life Support Systems Course in Preparation for Extra-Vehicular Space Suit Testing Boulder, Colo. - The International Institute of Astronautical Sciences (IIAS) recently completed its first OTTER course. Project OTTER (’Orbital Technologies and Tools for Extravehicular Reserach’) is a reserach program open to all Project PoSSUM graduates and conducts research leading to development of Extravehicular Activity (EVA) space suits. Human performance in EVA technologies is assessed in various analog environments. Instructed by PoSSUM’s Dr. Erik Seedhouse, EVA 101 covers the requirements and design considerations for life support systems in space. Included are an introduction to basic human physiology, a description of the space environment, a survey of historical life support systems, and a presentation of spacecraft limitations and requirements. Many graduates of EVA 101 will now participate in citizen-sciene activities related to human performance in EVA space suits. The next EVA 101 course will start in August 2019. The next step will be EVA 103, a course starting this February that will cover the requirements and design considerations for EVA systems and tools for conducting planetary field geology, including an introduction to field science in the context of geology; an overview of the processes that shape the surface environments of Mars and Earth’s moon; a survey of historical planetary surface geologic exploration by robots and humans; a survey of historical EVA systems and the design and implementation of EVA suits, tools, and procedures for effective and efficient field science operations on planetary surfaces. Finally, the students will take the lessons learned in the field and apply them in a laboratory environment using a gravity offset system, similar to the ARGOS system used by NASA, currently being developed by the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences to support EVA 104 (Fundamentals of EVA Space SUit Operations) that will be held this Summer.

Awesome PoSSUM Awards Granted for 2018 The 2018 Awesome PoSSUM Awards were announced in early January and the winner of the 2018 Awesome PoSSUM Award is Mrs. Heidi Hammerstein. Heidi has over 16 years of aerospace operational research and project management experience and is also a space and planetary exploration enthusiast. Throughout 2018, Heidi made consistent contributions in the research planning, execution, analysis, and publication of PoSSUM research while being a visible role model for aspiring scientists and aerospace professionals. Dr. Aaron Persad was the winner of the 2018 PoSSUM Citizen-Scientist Award. A Canadian CSA Astronaut Finalist, Aaron is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with expertise in material and fluid microphysics. Aaron's expertise was essential to the planning and execution of the successful PoSSUM microgravity research campaign, integrating research payloads from eleven different organizations including the Canadian Space Agency. Dr. Norah Patten was the winner of the 2018 PoSSUM Science Educator Award. Norah had made essential contributions to this year's PoSSUM post-landing and microgravity space suit evaluations and had used the unique opportunities to inspire, educate, and engage young students throughout Ireland, an emerging space nation of which she is a citizen. Alyssa Carson was the winner of the 2018 PoSSUM Outstanding Scholar Award, an award granted to the PoSSUM Academy graduate under 26 years of age that best demonstrated exceptional academic performance. Alyssa was the first PoSSUM Academy graduate to meet all requirements for the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences 'Applied Astronautics' certificate, an intensive one-year program involving PoSSUM aeronomy and bioastronautics research. Alyssa also continues to inspire young students by using her ability to speak English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese to communicate her work with PoSSUM at a variety of schools and forums across the world.

The 2018 Awesome PoSSUM Award presented to Mrs. Heidi Hammerstein of PoSSUM Class 1501 (right).

Awesome PoSSUM Award winners: Heidi Hammerstein (top), Aaron Persad (second from top), Norah Patten (second from bottom), and Alyssa Carson (bottom)

Enhanced IVA Space Suit Post-Landing Testing Planned for April Fifteen PoSSUM members will participate in the second phase of post-landing space suit evaluations in microgravity this April 11-15 with Integrated Spaceflight Services and Survial Systems USA in Groton, Connecticut. Extending upon last year’s evaluations and training using IVA space suits developed by Final Frontier Design of Brooklyn, NY, these evaluations will focus on evaluating human performance in contingency post-landing environments.

Photos from last April’s BIO 104 post-landing testing at Survival Systems USA showing docking hatch egress (left) and side hatch egress (right).

Applications now being accepted for PoSSUM Class 1901 Twelve new candidates will be selected for PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1901, which will take place at Embry-Riddle from 23-27 March 2019. The Advanced PoSSUM Academy will be held from 25-29 March 2019. Interested individuals should apply online at www.projectpossum.org no later than 31 January 2019. The Final Frontier EVA space suit prototype (left) will be the focus of the first OTTER citizen science reserach campaigns that Project PoSSUM members will be engaged with.

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Project PoSSUM News Winter 2019