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Winter 2020

project possum news

PoSSUM Team Completes First EVA Space Suit Gravity-Offset Testing at the Canadian Space Agency. Ivanna Hernandez from Colombia wins inaugural PoSSUM 13 Microgravity Challenge

PoSSUM Completes First Commercial Gravity-Offset EVA Space Suit Test at the Canadian Space Agency Montreal, Qc. – A team of sixteen Project PoSSUM citizen-scientists recently completed a series of gravity-offset evaluations of an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) space suit prototype at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) headquarters near Montreal, Quebec. The space suit was developed by Final Frontier Design of Brooklyn, NY and these tests mark the first gravity-offset tests of a commercial EVA space suit, an essential step towards certification. PoSSUM has trained citizen-scientists from over 40 different countries and this evaluation team had been specially trained in advance of these tests through a specialized curriculum that includes study of life support systems, operational space medicine, and planetary field geology. Under guidance from experts in these fields, each team member developed a lunar geological or remote medical tool to be later evaluated during the week-long test at the CSA. Then from 14-18 October, the PoSSUM scientist-astronaut candidates evaluated EVA space suit prototypes in lunar and zero-g conditions. To support the testing, PoSSUM developed a two-axis gravity-offset system with Kansas State University that combines a hoist with active force control and a ‘frictionless’ air-bearing axis to simulate horizontal motion. The system is designed to be used in terrestrial environments with human test subjects for the simulation of partial gravity or zero gravity environments. The gravity-offset system was installed in the CSA’s facilities for surface EVA simulations. Further, PoSSUM’s Quest Airlock mock-up was used to support orbital (microgravity) simulation.Evaluations in simulated lunar gravity included walking and various tests of tools developed by PoSSUM’s members that could be used on a surface EVA such as a hammer, shovel, soil sampler, and a rock hardness tester. Control units for remote drone and a 3D lidar imager were also evaluated. Evaluations in simulated microgravity included fluid line and electrical line connections as well as drill use on a mockup of the Quest Airlock used on the International Space Station. In addition to technical studies, PoSSUM evaluated training effectiveness methods and studied human performance in the analog environment. Participants in the EVA space suit were

fitted with CSA’s biomonitoring ‘smart garment’ to measure vitals and biometrics such as heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen saturation. “The scope of the effort was truly international.” said PoSSUM’s Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller, “The diverse PoSSUM team tested a Russian-heritage suit working under a NASA Space Act Agreement at the Canadian Space Agency with contributions from Kansas State and test teams originating from nations around the world.” This year’s test team included Dr. Aaron Persad of Boston, Mass.; Valerie Richard of Alexandria, Va.; Heidi Hammerstein of Pembroke, Ga.; Richard Blakeman of Lakewood, Colo.; Yvette Gonzalez of Miami, Fla.; Armin Kleinboehl of Long Beach, Calif.; Kyle Foster of Reston, Va.; Nadia Maarouf of Calgary, Alba.; Alyssa Carson of Baton Rouge, La; Vittorio Netti of Houston, Tex.; Keith Crooker of Burnsville, Minn.; Shawna Pandya of Edmonton, Alba.; Joey Corso of Palatine, Ill.; and Brien Posey of Rock Hill, S.C.

Project PoSSUM Completes 20 Microgravity Experiments with the National Research Council of Canada Ottawa, Ont. – This past October, the National Research Council of Canada’s Flight Research Laboratory in Ottawa, Ontario completed its fifth microgravity flight campaign with Project PoSSUM, a non-profit citizen science research organization with members hailing from 43 countries. These flights, commonly known as parabolic or zero-G flights, provide an opportunity to perform unique testing in a weightless environment simulating that of space. This campaign boasted 20 individual research experiments with 19 involved organizations from Europe, Africa, North and South America, over a span of four flights throughout the second week of October. Among these were Final Frontier Design, a space suit company based in Brooklyn, NY testing an affordable alternative to current intra-vehicular activity (IVA) spacesuits. This year, an improved and lighter air ventilation and pressurization system was integrated. The flights consisted of both suited and unsuited test subjects, with participants performing specific tasks whilst monitoring and supporting experiments during flight. These experiments include the testing of IVA space suits along with biomonitoring technologies similar to those planned for use on future human space exploration missions. Additional payloads included solid body rotation experiments developed by undergraduate students through a collaboration with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, experiments observing equilibrium states of a pure liquid-vapor water system developed jointly between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto to better understand how to design water containment systems for use in space, and the testing of new types of food packaging developed by Mission: Space Food whose goal is provide pleasurable and sustainable culinary experiences in space. A variety of experiments led by individual PoSSUM members were also flown including validation of a solar panel deployment mechanism for a satellite, a fluid cell experiment where the effects of laser heating are observed, an experiment observing how a person’s sense of motion is affected through use of virtual reality technologies in microgravity, a brain monitor experiment, a new cup design for use in weightlessness, and various educational experiments.

PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidate Megan Kane studies the effects of microgravity on fluids.

Another first for the PoSSUM team was the inclusion of four experiments provided through an international student competition led by the PoSSUM 13, an outreach program that organizes international contests to engage more girls and young women in STEM-related fields. Through this program, student experiments from Mexico, Guatemala, Ireland, and Colombia were flown. Ivanna Hernandez, a high school student from of Santa Marta, Colombia won the opportunity to fly with the PoSSUM team and operate her experiment in flight. PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidate Dr. Aaron Persad is supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to pursue space science research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and coordinated this year’s flight campaign. ” Each year, we’ve been pushing the frontier of the type of science and technology we can test in microgravity. In four days, we flew 20 experiments, all of which were human-tended payloads, and several of them reflected improvements in design and function from lessons learned from the results of our previous flight campaigns with the NRC. We also wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in this year’s campaign and dedicated portions of our flight to recreating a lunar gravity testing environment for some of our experiments. It is exciting that PoSSUM and NRC are asking and answering questions related to getting the next humans to the Moon and eventually to Mars.” The ability to test performance within a pressurized space suit demonstrates a unique capability that Project PoSSUM introduces to the execution of microgravity research.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 fifth successful campaign in which Final Frontier Design space suits have been evaluated in microgravity by Project PoSSUM researchers.

PoSSUM Flight Research team studies space suit performance and the dynamics of solid-body rotation in microgravity aboard the National research Council of Canada’s Falcon-20 reduced gravity aircraft

PoSSUM 13 Microgravity Challenge Winner, Ivanna Hernandez, Participates in PoSSUM Parabolic Flight Campaign Ottawa, Ontario – The first student team winners of the PoSSUM 13 International Microgravity Flight Challenge conducted their experiment as part of the annual PoSSUM microgravity campaign. Ivanna Hernandez, of the “Magnetic Force in Microgravity” team from Columbia, represented her team in Ottawa, Canada. Ivanna’s team, Maria Paula Lozano, Giuliana Fiorillo, and mentorDamian Madero, sought to research how Lorentz forces (forces exerted on charged particles moving through electromagnetic fields) control an object’s movement in microgravity conditions, which could be applied to create artificial gravity. “I am very proud to be the winner of the first PoSSUM 13 International Microgravity Flight Challenge. During the flight in microgravity, I met many women who are doing science and who are also preparing to be astronauts.” said Hernandez. The campaign was hosted by the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, Canada. Flights aboard the NRC’s Falcon-20, an aircraft capable of flying steep maneuvers called parabolas, allowed Ivanna and other PoSSUM students to experience repeated periods of weightlessness. Scientists use these periods of weightlessness to test equipment and to perform tasks to simulate the effects of reduced gravity on humans and hardware.

“Floating in microgravity initially feels like falling into a vacuum and when you’ve been floating for a few seconds it’s like being in the water, but without the resistance it gives you.” said Hernandez, “I experienced periods with twice the force of terrestrial gravity, where moving your arm is difficult for you because of the force you feel throughout your body and this happened while carrying out my experiment and the other two finalist experiments of the teams from Guatemala and Mexico.”

PoSSUM 13 Microgravity Challenge student mission patch from Colombia

Remaining finalist teams had their experiments flown with PoSSUM students on the microgravity flights. The Escuela Secundaria Técnica team from Sinaloa, Mexico included an experiment involving the separation of water and oil, and the team from Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala included their experiment examining energy generation and transformation.

The Out Astronaut Project Selects Shannon Gatta as Winner of the Inaugural Out Astronaut Contest BOULDER, Colo. – Shannon Gatta, a student from the University of Washington, was selected today as the winner of the first Out Astronaut Contest, a competition hosted by the Out Astronaut Project to increase the visible representation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) identified persons in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Gatta, who identifies as pansexual, later worked as a flight software engineer for NASA and as a system engineer for Ball Aerospace. She also served with the US Army in Afghanistan as one of the few women in her unit. Her next responsibilities may take her to the highest levels of our atmosphere; but first will be her initial training. Gatta was awarded a grant to attend the Advanced PoSSUM Academy held at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. There, she will study the principles of conducting scientific investigations onboard commercial spacecraft currently being developed. PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization that conducts upper-atmospheric and space technology research that will be enabled by next-generation commercial spacecraft. “This is an incredible honor to be selected to be the first astronaut candidate under the Out Astronaut organization.” said Gatta “Thanks to them I’m able to serve openly and without apology as a queer woman while training for a research mission to space. I plan to show the world that identifying openly as LGBTQ+ should not be seen as a limitation to success, and crossing the frontiers of space will inspire the community to achieve authentically, and for the world to accept us as we are.”

2019 Out Astronaut Phase One Contest Winner Shannon Gatta

The LGBTQ community is notably under-represented in STEM professions; according to a recent poll conducted by ‘Pride in STEM’, more than 40 percent of LGBTQ people in STEM are not out and LGBTQ students are less likely to follow an academic career. As a result, there are fewer out LGBTQ STEM professionals serving as role models to LGBTQ youth. The ‘Out Astronaut Project’ highlights the contributions of LGBTQ members currently working in science and space and provides grants to promising LGBTQ students currently pursuing professions in space-related fields. The program eventually intends to fly an ‘Out’ member of the LGBTQ community to conduct a scientific mission in space as a scientist-astronaut. Of the 561 individuals that have been selected as astronauts or cosmonauts, none have ever identified openly as a member of the LGBTQ community during their tenure as an active astronaut. Dr. Sally Ride was never out until her death in 2012. More recently, Astronaut Anne McClain’s lesbian identity was forced into the spotlight following a highly-publicized domestic dispute. “Regrettably, many LGBTQ people interested in STEM fear that their identity would be seen as a liability” said Out Astronaut Project Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller, “The intent of the Out Astronaut Project is to foster diversity and inclusion in STEM fields by helping out members of the LGBTQ community serve as role models and demonstrate that there are no limits to a career in science.” Additional competitions are being planned for 2020. To learn more about the Out Astronaut Project or to apply to the next Out Astronaut contest, visit outastronaut.org.

PoSSUM Completes Evaluation of Tools for Planetary Geology Flagstaff Az. – Project PoSSUM announced today that a team of twelve PoSSUM citizen-scientists had completed an evaluation of prototype tools for lunar and Martian geology to later be used to evaluate human performance characteristics of an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) space suit developed by Final Frontier Design of Brooklyn, NY. The course culminated in a one-week capstone field experience in the San Francisco Volcanic Field (SFVF), just north of Flagstaff, AZ, a location that has been used extensively in the past for a number of NASA analog mission simulations and NASA-funded geologic research related to planetary field exploration. Led by Dr. Jose Hurtado, a PoSSUM instructor who frequently instructs NASA’s astronaut candidates, the PoSSUM students were introduced to basic field science practice in the context of geologic observations and sample collection. The PoSSUM course included 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; and a survey of historical EVA systems and tools used for human surface science. Additionally, the PoSSUM students concentrated on design considerations for EVA systems and tools for conducting planetary field geology. EVA tools were designed by each student and then a test article of each tool was fabricated by PoSSUM’s technician team, led by Chris Lundeen. The students were then able to consider the constraints placed by human factors, the EVA environment, and science tasks upon the design and implementation of EVA suits, tools, and procedures for effective and efficient field science operations on planetary surfaces. “The course was expertly put together and taught by top field geologists.” said PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidate Dr. Aaron Persad, “Particularly interesting was learning about the lunar tools developed for the Apollo missions, and thinking about designing future tools for use on the Moon and Mars.”

The evaluation of tools in the scientifically relevant analog setting of the SFVF, as well as tools derived from an additional PoSSUM course on Operational Space Medicine, are currently being integrated into the first phase of EVA space suit evaluation using PoSSUM’s gravity offset laboratory, planned for October 2019. “The class was a pleasure to co-teach with Dr. Jose Hurtado.” said PoSSUM instructor Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj, “Working in the same locations where NASA astronauts did their training for the Apollo Moon missions brought a sense of nostalgia as well as excitement for what’s to come as we embark on a new frontier in space exploration.” PoSSUM’s citizen-scientists have been trained from over 40 different countries. The planetary field geology course included Dr. Aaron Persad of Somerville, Mass.; Yvette Gonzalez of Miami, Fla.; Dr. Shawna Pandya of Edmonton, Alba.; Dr. Rui Moura of Porto, Portugal; Heidi Hammerstein of Pembroke, Ga.; Kyle Foster of Centreville, Va.; Shayla Redmond of Kathleen, Ga.; Yajaira Sierra-Sastre of Rockville, Md.; Bethany Downer of St. John’s, N.F.; Joey Corso of Palatime, Ill.; Ana Pires of Porto, Portugal; and Brien Posey of Rock Hill, S.C. (upper left) PoSSUM Scientist-Astroanut Canddiate Dr. Rui Moura records the composition of a rock using a spectrometer. (lower left) PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidate Kyle Foster demonstrates techniques of tomographic imagery at the San Francisco Volcanic Fields near Flagstaff, Ariz.

PoSSUM to Conduct Post-Landing Egress and Contingency Medical Evaluations using Space Suits at Survival Systems this April Twelve PoSSUM members will participate in the 2020 post-landing space suit evaluation program at Survival Systems USA in Groton, CT. starting on 30 April, 2020. These tests will continue on the 2019 campaign where PoSSUM pressurized, suited test subjects will focus on multiple test objectives: 1) In-capsule or in-water medical contingency operations, 2) Managing an incapacitated crew member in post-landing, 3) Administration of post-landing CPR techniques on a victim in a space suit, 4) Evaluation of oxygen mask use in parachute drop scenarios in the IVA space suit, 5) Evaluation of one-raft versus personal raft designs (weight/egress effectiveness/risk trade), 6) Evaluation of upgraded Life Preserver unit stability and flotation.

Thirteen Scientist-Astronaut Candidates Graduate PoSSUM Class 1902 Project PoSSUM graduated thirteen new Scientist-Astronaut Candidates as part of PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1902. Additionally, PoSSUM graduated thirteen additional 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. Among the graduates of the Advanced PoSSUM Academy was Ms. Shannon Gatta, winner of the first Out Astronaut contest, an outreach program sponsored by PoSSUM to address inder-representation of the LGBTQ community in science and space. The thirteen graduating candidates of Scientist-Astronaut Class 1902 include Erik Bryce, Bailey Burns, Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio, Catherine Knipe, Nadia Maarouf, Robert Malakhov, Anthony Navarro, Vittorio Netti, Candice Nguyen, Priya Patel, Sian Proctor, Rodrigo Santiago, and Collin Wood. Additionally, PoSSUM welcomes thirteen new Advanced PoSSUM Academy graduates.

PoSSUM’s Scientist-Astronaut Class 1902

PoSSUM at the 70th International Astronautical Conference Over 50 PoSSUM scientist-astronaut candidates, PoSSUM Academy graduates, and instructors attended the 70th International Astronautical Conference in Washington DC from October 21-25, 2019. PoSSUM members gave several key presentations on IVA and EVA space suit test and evaluation, space medicine, analog environment testing, and two educational outreach programs that PoSSUM sponsors: PoSSUM 13 and Out Astronaut.

Applications now being accepted for PoSSUM Class 2001 Twelve new candidates will be selected for PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 2001, which will take place at Florida Tech in Melbourne, Florida from 10-15 April 2020. The Advanced PoSSUM Academy will be held from 13-17 April 2020. Interested individuals should apply online at www.projectpossum.org no later than 1 February 2020.

PoSSUM and OTTER Graduate Course Schedule Released for 2020 2020 will be a busy time for the PoSSUM team as four citizen-science programs (AER 103, BIO 103, BIO 104, and EVA 104) will be held. 2020 will also welcome two new courses: EVA 102 Operational Space Medicine (Spring) and AER 102 remote Sensing and Mesospheric Modeling (Fall). Courses designated as 101 courses are available to all and you do not need to be a PoSSUM scientist-astronaut candidate or PoSSUM Academy graduate to register for one of these classes. DATES Feb 3 - Apr 10, 2020

COURSE AER 101: Suborbital Space Environment




Dr. Armin Kleinboehl

Feb 3 - Apr 10, 2020

BIO 101: Space Flight Physiology


Dr. Erik Seedhouse

Feb 3 - Apr 10 (virtual)

EVA 102: Opera�onal Space Medicine

San Francisco Volcanic Flats, AZ.

Dr. Shawna Pandya, Dr. Jeremy Saget

EVA 103: Planetary Field Geology and EVA Tool Development

San Francisco Volcanic Flats, AZ.

Dr. Jose Hurtado, Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj

AST 101: Fundamentals of Applied Astronau�cs*

Melbourne, FL.

Dr. Jason Reimuller, Dr. Erik Seedhouse

BIO 102: Spacecra� Egress and Rescue Opera�ons

Groton, CT.

Dr. Jason Reimuller

May 5-8, 2020 (Campaign) Feb 3 - Apr 10 (virtual) May 9-12, 2020 (Campaign) March 16- April 6 (virtual) Apr 10-17, 2020 (in Florida) March 30 - April 20 (virtual) Apr 25-29, 2020 (in Groton) Apr 30 - May 3, 2020

BIO 104: Advanced Spacecra� Egress Groton, CT. - Post-landing Spacesuit Opera�ons

Mr. Ken Trujillo

Jul 10-20, 2020 (dates tenta�ve)

AER 103 Field Campaign: Airborne High Level, AB. Remote Sensing of the Mesosphere

Dr. Jason Reimuller

Jul 8 - Aug 30, 2020

EDU 101: Ci�zen Science Research Methods


Mr. Sco� Ri�er

Aug 3 - Sept 25, 2020

EVA 101: Life Support Systems


Dr. Erik Seedhouse

Aug 3 - Sept 25, 2020 (tenta�ve)

AER 102: Remote Sensing and Mesospheric Modeling


Dr. Steven Mitchell, Mr. Kyle Foster

AST 101: Fundamentals of Applied Astronau�cs*

Melbourne, FL.

Dr. Jason Reimuller, Dr. Erik Seedhouse

Aug 24 - Sept 18 (virtual) Sept 18-25, 2020 (in Florida) Aug 3 - Sept 25 (virtual) Sept 28 - Oct 2, 2020 (campaign) Aug 3 - Sept 25 (virtual) Oct 5-9, 2020 (campaign)

BIO 103: Microgravity Spacesuit Evalua�on EVA 104: Gravity-Offset EVA Suit Evalua�on

Na�onal Research Council, O�awa, Dr. Aaron Persad Ontario Canadian Space Dr. Aaron Persad, Mr. Agency, Montreal Qc. Ted Southern

All material copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved

Profile for Jason Reimuller

The Project PoSSUM News Winter 2020  

The latest in PoSSUM citizen-science! PoSSUM scientist-astronaut candidates complete first gravity-offset EVA space suit tests with the Cana...

The Project PoSSUM News Winter 2020  

The latest in PoSSUM citizen-science! PoSSUM scientist-astronaut candidates complete first gravity-offset EVA space suit tests with the Cana...