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Citizen Astronautics Group Studies Noctilucent Clouds from High Performance Aircraft with the Canadian Air Force


Citizen Astronautics Group Studies Noctilucent Clouds from High Performance Aircraft with the Canadian Air Force

PR Newswire

EDMONTON, Alberta, Aug. 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Project PoSSUM announced today that it had successfully completed a high-altitude research campaign to study noctilucent clouds using a CT-155 'Hawk' training aircraft, thanks to CAE, located at the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 15 Wing at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Noctilucent clouds form approximately 50 miles above the Earth's polar regions and are believed to be sensitive indicators of climate change and good proxies of low-density atmospheres, such as on Mars.

PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidate Capt. Theon Te Koeti, PoSSUM Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller, and PoSSUM Education Director Adrien Mauduit conducted the high-altitude research from 29 June to 1 July, 2018 from the Edmonton International Airport. Three night flights were conducted to 45,000' altitudes to image fine structures of noctilucent clouds that the team hopes will reveal complex patterns of turbulence and instability in our upper atmosphere.

The campaign extends upon research conducted by PoSSUM last July in High Level, Alberta where 17 PoSSUM members tested NASA-funded camera systems from a Mooney aircraft. This July, these cameras were successfully launched from Kiruna, Sweden as part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate's PMC Turbo balloon mission. Led by PoSSUM Chief Scientist Dr. Dave Fritts, PMC Turbo is the first dedicated mission exploring the small-scale dynamics of our mesosphere and the first balloon mission to employ balloon-borne lidar. PoSSUM will next analyze the imagery to determine if small-scale turbulence could be discernable from aircraft.

Reimuller, a Co-Principal Investigator of PMC Turbo, served as Mission Specialist onboard the aircraft and operated a specialized camera system. Capt. Te Koeti, a NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) Instructor Pilot and the executive officer for 2 CFFTS at 15 Wing, served as Pilot in Command. Mauduit, a professional astrophotographer and science communicator, served as camera specialist.

This October, PoSSUM will return to Canada to evaluate prototype space suits in microgravity with the National Research Council in Ottawa. Eventually, the team plans to use next-generation suborbital spacecraft to build tomographic (3D) models of the mesosphere.

PoSSUM ('Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere') is a non-profit research and education organization conducting upper-atmospheric and space technology research while communicating the science through educational outreach programs held at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. Interested individuals should apply online at


Dr. Jason Reimuller, Executive Director, Project PoSSUM, Boulder, Colo.; 720-352-3227;

Capt. Jenn Halliwell, Wing Public Affairs Officer, 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Canadian Armed Forces; 306-631-0509;

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SOURCE Project PoSSUM, Inc.

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