Tuesday , August 9 2022

Glasgow student to help NASA return to the moon


It was in 1969 that Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon and took the "small step" one that won the space race for the United States and shocked audiences who did not believe around the world.

Now nearly half a century, NASA has said it will not give up its mission to send humans to other planets, and by the end of the 1920s it will have astronauts on the moon, ready to launch vessels to bring humans to Mars.

But to reach the next limit, 34 million miles away, the World Space Agency enlisted the help of a philosophy student from the University of Glasgow to make it happen.

A new doctoral program will examine the student developing the philosophical understanding of the risk needed to send men and women back to the moon, this time to stay there.

The program, which is currently in the final stages of obtaining backing from the UK government's research government, will partner with NASA to analyze how its safety reports are structured and the underlying causality philosophy.

Dr. Neil McDonnell, who will oversee the new doctorate in engineering engineering philosophy, was asked to visit the space agency last year to see what he could contribute to their latest projects.

He said: "Causality is something that philosophers take care of very much, because there is nothing in the world that can be seen under a microscope called causation.

"So the question we have to ask is, are we always right when we say that throwing a rock causes the window to break?

There is a concept of causality where we need to analyze and understand properly.

Until recently, NASA had hardly peeped or tried to travel to the Moon since 1972, and one reason they did not try it was because there was some decision in the United States that said you could not send astronauts into unless there was no risk.

He added: "Well, of course there's never a risk."

Famous disasters such as the space shuttle bombing in 1986 were removed for safe takeoff before the components failed.

Safety cases always put forward for new expeditions, and can then be explored to figure out what went wrong.

"By chance we know they use very old theories of causality and logic, so what we need to do is figure out what they're using now, and know which contemporary philosophy theories are better than changing things," McDonnell said.

A Glasgow University student will spend up to six months at the NASA Research Center in Langley, Va., Analyzing the safety reports of previous missions as well as time in Scotland to investigate the metaphysics and epistemology required to integrate complex space engineering and philosophy research.

The student will use philosophy to better understand why missiles sometimes go wrong and do what McDonnell calls a "useful and serious" contribution to NASA's dangerous venture to build a permanent base on the moon.

President Donald Trump approved the new research campaign at the end of 2017.

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