Project PoSSUM Graduates Scientist-Astronaut Class 1801 at Embry-Riddle

01 Jun Project PoSSUM Graduates Scientist-Astronaut Class 1801 at Embry-Riddle

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Project PoSSUM, a non-profit research program devoted to the study of Earth’s upper atmosphere, announced that it has graduated eight new Scientist-Astronaut Candidates as part of PoSSUM Class 1801. Additionally, PoSSUM graduated nine students as part of the Advanced PoSSUM Academy, a preparatory program designed for undergraduate students. Contributing to PoSSUM Class 1801 was world-champion aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff and former Chief Medical Officer of the US Navy’s Blue Angels Program Dr. Perry Bechtle.

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 October the PoSSUM graduates will study human performance in space suits in microgravity through a parabolic flight campaign with the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada and also evaluate a prototype Extravehicular Activity (EVA) space suit from partner Final Frontier Design.

“Understanding our shared global climate and setting the foundation for humanity to become a multi-planetary species are two of the most intrinsically international endeavors.” commented PoSSUM Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller. “PoSSUM Class 1801 is culturally very diverse, yet the global mindset and shared commitment of these candidates towards those missions is very clear.”

PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, uses research aircraft, high-altitude balloons, and commercial suborbital spacecraft 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 program also conducts bioastronautics research, spacesuit-related technology development, and educational outreach missions.

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 international research campaigns. The program is 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 eight graduating candidates of Scientist-Astronaut Class 1801 include Capt. Theon “T.K.” Te Koeti of Moose Jaw, Sask.; Ms. Kellie Gerardi of New York, N.Y.; Mr. Otto Afanador of Rehoboth Beach, Cal.; Dr. Ashok Narayanamoorthi of Bantiah, Oman; Ms. Fatoumata Kebe of Paris, France; Dr. Karam Ghatora of London, U.K.; Dr. Yajaira Sierra-Sastre of Rockville, Md.; and Carmen Felix Chaidez of Mexico City, Mexico.

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