John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Brown Bag Seminar Series on Nov. 18th Features Poonam Josan

The fall semester Brown Bag Seminar Series features graduate students providing presentations on their current research and recent internships.  This series continues on Wednesday, November 18th, featuring grad student Poonam Josan presenting Astronaut Biomechanics and Desensitization Training for Planetary Surface Operations with Modified Gravity.

This series of presentations will be held in the Space Studies Library at noon.  Lunch will be served.  All funded grad students are expected to attend.

About the topic:  The human body is used to a 1-G environment and behaves differently in lower gravity. Extra Vehicular Activities using rovers and spacesuits will be challenging in planetary environments with distinctive terrain, and require trained space explorers with interactive human-machine compatibility. Current available visualization methods display a generalized view of planetary surface featuring a visual 3-D interface, yet lack an ‘actual’ immersive environment due to the lack of lower gravity conditions. With the potential to perfect planetary EVA procedures and address vital human factors associated with space planetary exploration, it is important to study the psycho-physiological components of a subject in a real-time immersive environment. The proposed system provides an immersive 3-D planetary Virtual Reality model utilizing high performance computing, image processing, and 3-D rendering. It is compatible with multiple planetary bodies and asteroids whereas the current system applications are limited to the space station and Mars. ‏The device assists in the study of human limbs – eye coordination, and fills the gap between vision and perception encountered in low gravity environments, which may compromise astronaut’s decision making capabilities, and hence overall mission operations success. The desensitization training tool will eventually equip the researchers, mission planners and space travelers for a future planetary manned mission.‏


A concurrent topic will introduce the benefits of an open source biomechanics software tool to model and simulate different dynamic movements of astronauts.



About the presenter:  Poonam is a second year Space Studies graduate student. She calls state of Punjab, India as her home and received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from SRM University, Chennai. During her junior and senior years, she was involved in student green aircraft and space transportation design teams. Her senior year student project was focused on enhancing propulsive thrust efficiency by incorporating modifications in rocket nozzle design. Her love for manned spaceflight program brought Poonam to the Department of Space Studies in the spring of 2014. Despite her technical background, she has developed a keen interest in human factors and physiological challenges of Human Spaceflight. She looks forward to build up her future research endeavors on these interests. She currently works as a graduate research assistant for Dr. Pablo de Leon’s Human Spaceflight Lab.


Poonam volunteers for High Altitude Space Ballooning launches and is president of on-campus student organization Dakota Space Society (SEDS chapter) for academic year 2015-16. She is also a part of the NASA Student launch and Centennial challenge team, which will build a rocket and a robotic launch assistance platform for the competition, which is to be held in Huntsville, Alabama next year. She served in National Cadet Corps (Army), India where she worked on various organizational and instructional ranks for three years. She was running a voluntary project of popularizing Space Sciences in middle and high schools of rural North India for six months before joining UND. She is a firm believer of STEAM. In her spare time, Poonam enjoys biking, solo travelling, hiking, history and dancing.


For information on the Brown Bag Seminar Series, please contact Space Studies faculty member Dr. Vadim Rygalov.