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.
This year ushers in the first PoSSUM 13 student, micro-gravity science challenge where students compete for a payload experiment aboard the annual PoSSUM microgravity campaign. This campaign is hosted by the National Research Council in Ottawa, Canada. The final selected experiment enables a female-led student team to connect with ambassadors as mentors while testing the performance of their science on a multi-parabola flight. The PoSSUM 13 International Microgravity Flight Challenge is a competition that invites female-led student teams worldwide to propose a science experiment to be performed in microgravity. Winning proposals will be flown on board the Falcon-20, an aircraft capable of flying steep maneuvers called parabolas, which allow researchers to experience repeated periods of weightlessness. Scientists use these periods of weightlessness to test equipment and to perform tasks to simulate the effects of reduced gravity on humans and hardware.
We are soliciting student teams to propose a task or experiment for Project PoSSUM’s Scientist-Astronauts to carry out during our next microgravity flight campaign in October 2019. In an effort to celebrate and promote the achievements of women in space science, three teams will be selected to fully design and build their experiment and 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 (certain restrictions apply).
Current students, 13-17 years of age. This includes students enrolled in charter schools, correspondence courses, or non-traditional institutions such as home school, robotic clubs, or community-led organizations. Teams of up to four students may apply, so long as the the Team Lead is a female or female-identifying student. Physical payload submissions will be accepted from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean (Complete list of countries here). Teams representing other countries may submit proposals for simple human factor experiments to be performed by Scientist-Astronaut Candidates on-board the Falcon-20. Export Administration Restrictions (EAR) Department of State restrictions apply. Teams require at least one adult mentor. Your mentor can be a parent, teacher, community leader, or a scientist. Each proposal team should address the following questions in their experiment plan:
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 May 5th, 2019.
August 15, 2019: Payloads are shipped to Integrated Spaceflight Services.
August – October 2019: Hardware Preparedness Period
October 14-18, 2019: Flight dates
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.