Project PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, is a 501(c)(3) research and education organization that offers hands-on programs to enable students to become scientist astronaut candidates and participate in our ongoing research of the upper atmosphere—the region that is most sensitive to changes in global climate.
Project PoSSUM, and acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the upper Mesosphere, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization that uses citizen-science astronautics to enable novel measurements of the most sensitive region of global climate while inspiring and educating the public on the critical roles this region plays to the overall understanding of our global climate through immersive educational programs held at various locations throughout North America.
Our organization has trained scientist- astronaut candidates at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since February 2015 to fly PoSSUM missions on commercial suborbital spacecraft and to engage in further training or to hold educational events in graduates’ own communities. The research has been supported by a NASA Flight Opportunity in March 2012; following this, we created PoSSUM Academy to bring these hands-on research opportunities to young people. Not only do our students learn to conduct research, take novel measurements, and gain experience with spacesuits, mission simulation, scientific video- camera systems, and high-altitude training, they are also often inspired to pursue STEM degrees and careers, specifically in fields such as atmospheric science, astronautics, and aviation science.
PoSSUM Academy is a week-long, immersive program for students age sixteen and up who are interested in upper-atmospheric research and manned spaceflight. In 2017, we plan to conduct sixteen sessions across four facilities, which include Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the Space Foundation in Colorado Springs, CO. We use real, NASA-approved gear to provide an authentic training experience.
A second outreach for Project PoSSUM is our 2017 Sci-Arts competition. Led by two former NASA astronauts, this competition is an international contest in which student teams each design a sci-art payload—a science payload that also has an artistic component to it, whether expressed via visual arts, music, or performing arts. The winning team’s project will be funded to fly on a NASA- funded balloon experiment in Antarctica in December 2017. Project PoSSUM will be creating an accompanying documentary, with research and filming to occur in Canada, Connecticut, Florida, and Antarctica
**This was originally written in 2016