For those who want to be an astronaut or work in space, and for those climate scientists who want a closer look at the mesosphere — the understudied layer of Earth’s atmosphere that’s above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere — Project PoSSUM is a unique suborbital training program that teaches scientist-astronaut hopefuls how to operate the next generation of commercial space vehicles.
National Geographic calls it an adult space camp:
It’s been the dream of many to one day step into a space suit and count down to launch. With the ending of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011, that dream may have seemed farther away than ever for some. However, for the men and women training at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with Project PoSSUM, the closing of one door opened another to the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere (PoSSUM) program is a four-day intensive astronaut-science training course. Its purpose is to provide specific skills necessary for using commercial space vehicles to conduct climate change research in the most distant reaches of Earth’s atmosphere.