Created to honor the legacy of the Mercury 13, Project PoSSUM is pleased to announce the PoSSUM 13, a talented group of thirteen female Scientist-Astronaut Candidates and Advanced Academy PoSSUM graduates who will serve as global ambassadors in increasing opportunity and representation for students — and especially young women– who have a passion for space science and exploration. Through combination of educational outreach initiatives and mentorship, the PoSSUM 13 serve as ambassadors to citizen science.
The PoSSUM 13 Microgravity Flight Challenge invites female-led student teams worldwide to compete for a payload experiment aboard the National Research Council of Canada’s Falcon 20 research aircraft. This plane is capable of flying steep maneuvers called parabolas, allowing researchers to experience repeated periods of weightlessness or microgravity. Scientists use these flight conditions to study the effects of reduced gravity on humans and hardware.
In an effort to celebrate and promote the achievements of women in space science, up to two teams will be selected to fully design and build their experiment and will receive mentoring from PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates regarding pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight procedures. One student from the top winning team will have the opportunity to fly as a mission specialist on board the Falcon-20 in September 2020 as part of PoSSUM’s annual microgravity campaign (certain restrictions and conditions apply).
March 15, 2020: Microgravity Webinar
May 1, 2020: Proposals Due
May 15, 2020: Winning Teams Announced (EXTENDED)
May-June, 2020: Payload Build, Mentoring
July 1, 2020: Student Payload Demonstration (via video conference)
July 15, 2020: Test Equipment Data Package Due (TEDP)
August 1, 2020: Payloads Shipped to Integrated Spaceflight Services
August 26, 2020: Winning Student Announced and Payloads Shipped to National Research Council of Canada
September 27 to October 2, 2020: Flight Campaign (Ottawa, Canada)
Submit a written proposal and a short video explaining your idea for the experiment. Describe the science question your team wants to answer and the description of the procedures to be performed by Scientist-Astronaut candidates or Payload Specialists during the flight. Proposals shall be no more than five pages long and may include drawings describing the experiment. Please include:
1) the title of the experiment,
2) the names of all students and mentors and their roles in the project,
3) the name of school, institution, education platform, or program,
4) mission patch design,
5) a short summary or abstract, and
6) a list of equipment/materials (if applicable)
7) your experiment plan
Videos shall be no longer than two (2) minutes and can be narrated in Spanish, English, or French. They should include the following:
1) an introduction of the team,
2) a brief description of your experiment idea,
3) What excites you about having an experiment flown in microgravity?
Then upload your video to Youtube (with parent or adult mentor approval) and include a link in your application by the contest deadline.
PoSSUM13 is excited to announce the two finalists selected for the 2020 PoSSUM 13 Microgravity Flight Challenge. This initiative invites female-led student teams worldwide to compete for a payload experiment aboard the National Research Council of Canada’s Falcon 20 research aircraft. This plane is capable of flying steep maneuvers called parabolas, allowing researchers to experience repeated periods of weightlessness or microgravity. Scientists use these flight conditions to study the effects of reduced gravity on humans and hardware.
In an effort to celebrate and promote the achievements of women in space science, the finalists will have the opportunity to fully design and build their experiment and will receive mentoring from PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates regarding pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight procedures. One student from the top winning team will have the opportunity to fly as a mission specialist on board the Falcon-20 in September 2020 as part of PoSSUM’s annual microgravity campaign.
Team applicants of the 2019 and 2020 microgravity challenges that were not selected as finalists will each receive an individual mentoring session from PoSSUM13 ambassadors. They will also be invited to attend three interactive PoSSUM13 workshops on the topics of the fundamentals of microgravity research, the fundamentals of the scientific method and proposal writing, and space careers.
“Our finalists are at the caliper of seasoned college STEM students,” shared Aidyl Gonzalez, PoSSUM13 Ambassador and STEM Coordinator. “These young future world changers are incredibly intelligent, humble, and dedicated to paying it forward to their community through STEM.”
This team project was submitted from the Greeneville Girls After School Science Club (USA), consisting of Jennie Bulawa, Grace Evans, Samantha Henderson, Anna Jackson, and team mentor Beth Bulawa. This initiative aims to study resonance in the microgravity environment. This concept details how an external force causes another system around it to vibrate with greater amplitude – an important factor that must be considered in the development of buildings and experiments in space. To assess resonance in the absence of gravity, the team has developed an experiment consisting of an enclosed speaker, a tone generator and two sports cameras. These cameras will record how water will behave on the speakers when the tone is generated in the microgravity environment.
“Thank you for giving us, the Greeneville Girls, such an opportunity,” shared team member Grace Evans. “We are excited to explore all of the PoSSUM 13’s helpful ideas to make something awesome.”
This team project was submitted from Maclay School (USA) , consisting of Elizabeth Crapps, Katerina Krizner, Kathryn Merritt, and team mentor Dr. William Perry. This experiment aims to assess the amount of oxygen inhaled and exhaled during in the microgravity environment. The experiment will measure lung capacity using a peak flow meter under various gravity conditions (including high-G’s and microgravity). The experiment hopes to gain insightful data that can be applied to ensure the safety of future astronauts with physical respiratory conditions during spaceflight. This experiment focuses particularly on asthmatics.
Upon learning of their selection as a finalist, team mentor Dr. William Perry shared, “This is wonderful – this is such a great experience for the girls. They are so full of excitement!”
After a competitive evaluation period, three student team finalists were selected and flew experiments during our 2019 campaign.
The 2019 PoSSUM 13 Microgravity Challenge Winner Ivanna Hernandez from Colombia demonstrates her experiment in microgravity with the Project PoSSUM team in the 2019 campaign at the National Research Council of Canada.
Do you have any questions? The answer may just be in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), you can visit this section by clicking the next button.
The Mercury 13 were thirteen American women who, as part of a privately funded program, underwent the same physiological screening tests as the astronauts selected by NASA on April 9, 1959 for Project Mercury.
The term was coined in 1959 by Hollywood producer James Cross as a comparison to the Mercury Seven name given to the selected male astronauts; however, the Mercury 13 were not part of NASA’s astronaut program, never flew in space and never met as a group. William Randolph Lovelace II, former Flight Surgeon and later, chairman of the NASA Special Advisory Committee on Life Science, helped develop the tests for NASA’s male astronauts and became curious to know how women would do taking the same tests. All of the candidates were accomplished pilots.
Lovelace and Cobb reviewed the records of over 700 women pilots in order to select candidates, and did not invite anyone with less than 1,000 hours of flight experience. Some of them may have been recruited through the Ninety-Nines, a women pilot’s organization of which Cobb was also a member. Jane Hart was the oldest candidate, at 41, and mother of eight. Wally Funk, was the youngest, at 23. Marion and Janet Dietrich were twin sisters.
Help us keep the STEM ambitions of young women alive! Each PoSSUM 13 Microgravity Challenge costs about $12,000 and your kind donation helps us offset the operational expenses of experiment test and integration, flight, and the expenses involved with transporting and lodging the winning student and her chaperone.