Noctilucent Cloud and Aeronomy Research

Noctilucent clouds are rare ‘space clouds’ that are believed to be sensitive indicators of global climate trends. Too high to reach by aircraft yet too low to reach by satellite, Project PoSSUM will explore these clouds using aircraft, balloons and human-tended experiments on suborbital spacecraft.

Airborne Noctilucent Cloud Tomography

Chasing NLCs crop_lores

Can we build 3-D models of our mesosphere from aircraft observations? Each July, PoSSUM scientist-astronaut candidates image noctilucent clouds in Northern Alberta when noctilucent cloud activity is at its peak. In 2018, PoSSUM collaborated with the Royal Canadian Air Force for high-altitude flights using a CT-155 ‘Hawk’.  Together with Athabasca University, ground observations are combined with the aircraft images.

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Balloon Noctilucent Cloud Imagery

From 38k ft above the surface of Greenland, PMC-Turbo makes the first dedicated observations of the fine structures of noctilucent clouds

What are the dynamics of our upper-atmosphere and what can this say about our changing global climate? In July 2018, PoSSUM instrumentation flew as part of NASA’s ‘PMC Turbo’ mission to better answer this question by studying noctilucent cloud features over a six-day mission across Greenland and Nunavut. Students from around the world can participate! (credit: NASA)

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Suborbital Tomography

Ascending through a noctilucent cloud layer in simulated suborbital flight (credit: Ross Lockwood)

Are noctilucent clouds a harbinger of climate change? Can manned suborbital spacecraft help us better understand this? NASA thinks so! PoSSUM Scientist-Astronauts will fly instruments around these clouds to build extremely precise 3D models of our upper atmosphere which can help us better address these key questions. (credit: Ross Lockwood)

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Bioastronautics Research and Spacesuit Evaluation

How well can man perform in space? PoSSUM Members work with Final Frontier Design and Integrated Spaceflight Services to test and evaluate new spacesuits and emerging space technologies in analog environments.

Analog Environments

PoSSUM team members testing seat ingress methods in microgravity using Final Frontier 3G IVA spacesuits (credit: Cinemaraven)

How can we understand how well prototype spacesuits will perform once needed in space? To help answer this, PoSSUM members evaluate spacesuits in analog environments here on Earth including microgravity, high-G, and high-altitude environments!

Human Factors Research

Dr Sarah Jane Pell prepares to test functionality of the Final Frontier IVA spacesuit in a Mooney research aircraft, an analog operational environment to a spacecraft.

How well can one operate a spacesuit in a cramped operational environment like in a Soyuz or Dragon capsule? PoSSUM members perform comparable procedures in research aircraft and in simulated spaceflight to find out!

Post-landing Operability Research

Project PoSSUM members test Final Frontier space suits through unassisted top-hatch egress procedures in a test article approximating NASA's Orion spacecraft.

How effectively can one conduct post-landing assisted and unassisted contingency egress operations in IVA spacesuits? PoSSUM members simulate water ingress from parachute descent or capsule egress in varying sea and lighting conditions to find out!

OTTER: Extravehicular Activity Operational Research

How can contingency medical operations be performed in an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) environment? How can tools be designed that will function well on the Moon or Mars? These are questions that PoSSUM members seek to answer by studying analog microgravity, analog underwater, and analog terrestrial environments with Extravehicular Activity (EVA) spacesuits.

PoSSUM maintains a two-axis gravity-offset system at the Canadian Space Agency in Montreal, Quebec to simulate EVA operations in the orbital (microgravity) environment or to simulate surface EVA operations on the Moon or Mars.

Lunar EVA hammer test

PoSSUM Space Medicine Group

The PoSSUM Space Medicine Group is comprised of a Health Task Force to address critical issues pertaining to medical issues associated with Project PoSSUM and PoSSUM research activities.

PoSSUM Space Medicine Group