Indian-origin doctor gets trained to travel to space to conduct experiments

An Indian-origin neurosurgeon doctor in Canada is training for a scientist-astronaut project which give her the chance to conduct experiments in space a media report said.

Dr Shawna Pandya has completed her Masters in Space Studies at the International Space University and worked at both the European Astronaut Centre and NASA’s Johnson Space Centre. She is a guest lecturer at technology and the future of medicine course at the University of Alberta.

The training aims to familiarise candidates with conditions that exist around noctilucent clouds, which are thought to be increasing in the upper mesosphere as a result of climate change. Astronauts will be sent up in suborbital flights to study the clouds.

Shawna Pandya and her colleague Michael Gallagher, practicing in Edmonton, were getting training for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere (PoSSUM) far-out Scientist-Astronaut Course at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.

The medical doctors donned spacesuits, rode on aerobatic flights and experienced changing gravity environments as part of the training that could ultimately land them a trip to space, in the name of science.

Dr Shawna Pandya

They returned from first phase of training on Wednesday and now will be accompanied by Ross Lockwood, a Ph.D. in physics at University of Alberta, when they visit Ottawa this week to complete spacesuit training and testing in zero-gravity.

The object of the training is to familiarise candidates with conditions that exist around noctilucent clouds, which are thought to be increasing in the upper mesosphere as a result of climate change. Astronauts will be sent up in suborbital flights to study the clouds.

Just nine other candidates from Canada, the United States and Spain joined the two Edmonton doctors in completing the second-ever training class conducted by PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) last week.

Pandya, Gallagher and University of Alberta physics PhD Ross Lockwood will head to Ottawa next week to complete spacesuit training and testing in zero-gravity.

The intense training is a lot to juggle with long shifts at her hospital job in Edmonton, but Pandya will make it work.

“It is a bit of a balancing act, but it’s all good, fun stuff, so it is what it is,” she said.

– Spadman

Comments

comments