Project PoSSUM Graduates 13 Scientist-Astronaut Candidates

Project PoSSUM graduates (Credit: ERAU)
Project PoSSUM graduates (Credit: ERAU)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (ERAU PR) — Project PoSSUM, a non-profit research program devoted to the study of Earth’s upper atmosphere, announced that it has graduated 13 new Scientist-Astronaut Candidates as part of PoSSUM Class 1601.

The PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut program, designed by former NASA astronaut instructors and hosted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., gives its candidates the skills to effectively conduct research on commercial space vehicles as part of an international research campaign dedicated to the study of our global climate.

PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, uses commercial suborbital spacecraft and high-altitude balloons to study rare “space clouds” called noctilucent clouds. These elusive clouds can help scientists address critical questions about Earth’s climate, but can only be studied in the upper atmosphere from polar latitudes during a small window of time in the summer.

The PoSSUM graduates will now participate in several research programs, including a prototype spacesuit evaluation program, educational outreach programs, and technology development programs in preparation for suborbital research missions.

The PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut program is an intense training curriculum that covers atmospheric science, remote sensing, celestial mechanics, particle scattering, spaceflight physiology and PoSSUM instrument operations. At Embry-Riddle, students received comprehensive spacesuit training, high-altitude and hypoxia awareness training, and aerospace physiology training with world-champion aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff. Students also received first-hand instruction on space-based imagery techniques from NASA astronaut Don Pettit.

This Scientist-Astronaut class also hosted the first PoSSUM forum, titled “Project PoSSUM and the Art of Science Communication,” featuring artist, retired astronaut, and Embry-Riddle alumna Nicole Stott; astronaut Don Pettit; artist and explorer Dr. Sarah Jane Pell; neuroscientist and SciArt Exchange Executive Director Jancy McPhee; and Project PoSSUM Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller.

The 13 graduating candidates include Axel Garcia Burgos of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Ahmed Farid of Munich, Germany; Tom Foltz of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Dr. Rui Moura of Porto, Portugal; Omar Samra of Cairo, Egypt; Maj. Michael Parkhill of Lindsay, Texas; Anima Patil-Sabale of San Ramon, Calif.; Dr. Sarah Jane Pell of Victoria, Australia; Lt. Dustin Wallace of Norfolk, Va.; Hampton Black of Tampa, Florida; Brien Posey of Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Andreea Radulescu and Dr. Erik Seedhouse, both of Toronto, Canada.

Twelve new candidates will be selected for the next PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut class, which will take place at Embry-Riddle from Oct. 1-5, 2016. Interested individuals should apply online at www.projectpossum.org.

About Project PoSSUM

Project PoSSUM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization that trains citizen-science astronautics to enable novel measurements of the most sensitive region of global climate while inspiring and educating the public on the critical roles this region plays in the overall understanding of our global climate through immersive educational programs. Project PoSSUM is administered by a team of scientists and much of the training takes place at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. To learn more about Project PoSSUM, visit www.projectpossum.org.