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Project PoSSUM: Polar Suborbital Science Upper Mesophere, US 2016

An immersive educational experience to fly the PoSSUM Noctilucent Cloud Tomography Experiment Suborbital mission.

PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1601

Integrated Spaceflight Services; Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School; Final Frontier Designs; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Southern Aero Medical Institute (SAMI).

Hampton Black (US), Alex Garcia Burgos (RU/US), Ahmed Farid, Tom Foltz (US), Rui Miguel Marques Moura (PT), Major Michael Parkhill (US), Anima Patil-Sabale (US), Dr. Sarah Jane Pell (AU), Brien Posey (US), Andreea Rà†dulescu (RO/CA), Omar Samra (EG), Dr. Erik Seedhouse (CA), Dustin Wallace (US).

Dr. Pell graduated from PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1601 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on 12 April 2016 (Cosmonaut Day). PoSSUM is the acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere. PoSSUM evolved from a NASA-sponsored flight opportunity granted in March 2012 for three technology maturation flights of PoSSUM instrumentation including the video camera, IR, and WFI instrument to fly the Noctilucent Cloud Tomography mission. The PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Program at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a fully immersive training program providing the skills required to effectively conduct research on the next generation of commercial space vehicles for polar aeronomy research. PoSSUM also exclusively manages the microgravity spacesuit evaluation program with Final Frontier Design. PoSSUM members are actively involved in spacesuit technology development efforts, instrumentation development for PoSSUM Polar imagery experiments and PoSSUM educational and outreach programs.

The PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Qualification program combines three weeks of Aeronomy webinar instruction followed by one-week of intensive training including high-G training, crew resource management training, spacesuit training, high-altitude training, biometric analysis, and PoSSUMCam operations. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University awarded us three continuing education units (3CEUs) in "Suborbital Mission Operations". Curriculum included:

Day 1: Academic Instruction and Simulator Operations

Overview of the PoSSUM program; Science of the Mesosphere; Fundamentals of Remote Sensing; Basic Noctilucent Cloud Science; PoSSUM Instrumentation Operations; Imaging Noctilucent Clouds from Suborbital Spacecraft; Imaging Noctilucent Clouds from the International Space Station; Aerospace Physiology; and Life Support Systems.

Day 2: Hypoxia Effects and PoSSUMCAM Operations

Hypoxia awareness training at altitudes equivalent to 25,000 feet in a high-altitude chamber Flight Operations Facility, SAMI Melbourne FL capable of simulating space missions in hypoxic or hyperoxic environments; Training in the PoSSUMCam system and related instrumentation in a classroom environment.

Day 3: Spacesuit Training and PoSSUM Mission Simulations

Training in mission-qualified spacesuits i.e. to don and doff, pressurize a spacesuit, perform safety checks, and conduct basic operations using a spacesuit; Crew Resource Management training in PoSSUM mission simulation of actual noctilucent cloud research missions operating PoSSUM instrumentation in a real-time analog environment; Contingency operations training including principles of decompression, smoke and hazardous environments, post-landing scenarios, egress and sea survival systems, capsule egress fundamentals, and aircraft ejection systems.

Day 4: High-G (Ascent and Re-entry) Indoctrination and Mitigation Flight

High-G and microgravity Space Physiology flight with use of mechanical countermeasures and breathing techniques to mitigate high-G ascent and re-entry environments using an Extra 300L aircraft; Indoctrination to high-G and changing-G environments analogous to suborbital spaceflight; Exposure to Gx, Gy, and Gz accelerations; Execution of above maneuvers with student flying the aircraft using an Extra 300 aerobatic aircraft; Anti-G Garment training and introduction to Anti-G Breathing Maneuver (AGSM) training; Use of proper Crew Resource Management (CRM) techniques in-flight.

Day 5: Remedial instruction (if required) and Graduation

Evaluation; Graduation; Film: Sprites; Hit the Beach.


It was great working with Dr. Jason Reimuller, Astronaut Nicole Stott, Astronaut Dr. Don Pettit, Dr. Jancy McPhee, Nicholas Carlstrom, Dr. Paul Buza, Nikolay Moiseev, Virgil Calejesan, Dr. Eric Seedhouse, Michael Marco, Tim Plunkett, Alan, Van Wampler, Parker Rice, Chris Nguyen, ERAU staff, and of course, the 1601 Crew.

Victoria University Logo

Victoria University supported Dr. Pell's flights to the US to participate in the Project PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Program.

Daytona Beach & Melbourne Florida US

Project PoSSUM Official Mission Patch

Pell at Southern Aero Medical Institute 2016

Southern Aero Medical Institute (SAMI)
Slow Onset Hypoxia at High Altitude Training

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Pell in Final Frontier Design IVA Suit 2016

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Pressurised Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) Spacesuit

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PoSSUM-CAM-Suborbital-Simulator 2016

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
PoSSUM Suborbital Spaceflight Simulator: Lynx II and PoSSUM-CAM Tomography Research Flight profile

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Pell PoSSUM Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School 2016

Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School
High-G Flights Extra 300 and Decathlon Stunt Plane

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PoSSUM SCiArt Panel 2016 promo

PoSSUM Science Communication
Art and Science in Astronautics Panel, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 5 Apr 2016

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