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.
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.
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)
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)
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.
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.