Well, in our own little way. Sundog Software is involved with Project PoSSUM – a program to study noctilucent clouds from manned, suborbital flight next year. It presents an alternative to space tourism where you can conduct real science, and not just go along for the ride.
The first batch of 9 future astronauts were at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University yesterday for simulator training, while wearing their pressurized flight suits. Sundog Software developed the simulator’s visual simulation of noctilucent clouds, which allows the students to practice identifying the clouds from the ground, flying through them, and imaging them using the “PoSSUMcam.” Little is currently known about noctilucent clouds, but the principal investigator worked with us to develop a model of how these clouds are illuminated, where they form, and how light scatters within them. Their simulator was built using X-Plane, which we’ve worked with before.
I had the chance to sit on a few of the simulated training flights – hanging out with astronauts training for flight is not something you get to do every day! Also on hand was a camera crew producing a documentary on this project, which I’m looking forward to seeing later on.
Overall the training went smoothly – feedback on our simulated clouds was good all around, and the team learned a lot from the experience. We at Sundog wish continued success to this truly unique program.