Watch Regular People Train to Go to the Edge of Space
These folks are more than just passengers—they're flying to help scientists study a mysterious part of the upper atmosphere.
Up, up, where Earth's atmosphere brushes the edge of space, there lies a realm of sprites and elves. But these fanciful creatures are actually flashes of light that illuminate a mysterious part of our upper atmosphere called the mesosphere. Scientists have tried for years to study this region directly, but for the most part exploring this world firsthand remains a fairy tale.
A new program hopes to change that by training citizens with a science or engineering background—but who don't necessarily work as researchers—to head into the mesosphere on future commercial spaceflights to collect data.
Called Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere), the four-day course based at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida trains people to