Nasa: Belfast mathematician working towards her astronaut dream

Belfast mathematician working towards her astronaut dream

12/5/2021 8:39:00 PM

Belfast mathematician working towards her astronaut dream

Dr Caoimhe Rooney, from Belfast, keeps one eye on calculus and the other fixed firmly on the stars.

The 29-year-old from Belfast works at Nasa's Ames Research CenterMaths might be an alien language for some people - but a Belfast woman is hoping it will be her ticket to the stars.Dr Caoimhe Rooney works at Nasa's Ames Research Center in the United States.

The 29-year-old is hoping her ability with numbers will add up to her one day becoming an astronaut.If she succeeds, Dr Rooney could become the first person to boldly go where no person from Belfast has ever boldly gone before.But, as one of more than 22,000 applicants for four positions on the European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Corps - well, you don't have to have a maths PhD to know it's a bit of a long shot.

Dr Rooney, who has a PhD in applied mathematics from Oxford University, is involved in looking at how distant planets were formed, what they are made of and whether they could sustain life.The former student of Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, County Down, works in the planetary system branch of Nasa looking at planets outside of our solar system. headtopics.com

LIVE NBA VIEWING PARTY! LA Clippers @ New York Knicks

She wants to dispel the myth that maths is boring and prove that it really is "the language of our universe".'I'll just go all in'Speaking to BBC News NI, Dr Rooney said that after initially falling out of love with the subject, it was a very special teacher - Mrs Anderson - who reignited her passion in calculus.

"It wasn't until GSCE when I got a really amazing teacher who reinstilled that love of maths, who showed me I could do it and more importantly that it was a lot of fun," she said.Dr Rooney then went on to study pure maths at Trinity College Dublin before studying for her PhD at Oxford.

She then set out to find a job that combined her two greatest passions - maths and space."Growing up I loved space, but there wasn't many obvious opportunities for a profession in that here in Northern Ireland," she said."I started looking at opportunities in Nasa, thinking: 'You know what, I'll just go all in.'

Lab monkeys who escaped from lorry carrying 100 in crash found

"And I found that they were actually looking for mathematical modellers."The role was right up my alley and I just had to convince them that I had the mathematical capabilities to do what they wanted."Dr Rooney's role at Nasa involves researching planets outside of our solar system, also known as Exoplanets. headtopics.com

Image source,Image caption,Dr Rooney with the Apollo 14 command module"These planets are light years away so Nasa can't send a space probe to take pictures, they need to use powerful telescopes to detect light that is reflecting off of them," Dr Rooney said.

"We then break this light up into its different wave lengths and, by looking at the breakdowns of this light, we can look at what the planet's atmosphere is like, its climate and if there are signs of life."When asked if they have discovered any extra-terrestrial beings yet, Dr Rooney said she is asked this question more than any other.

Queen returns to Sandringham for first extended stay since death of Prince Philip

"That is the ultimate question, could there be other forms of life in the universe? But the forms of life people are thinking of aren't little green men with four eyes, it's more than likely microbes or bacteria," she said.In space no one can hear your calculator

Dr Rooney has recently applied for the ESA Astronaut Corps - a programme to select and train European astronauts for space missions."Unlike most people, I didn't quite grow out of my child-like dream of wanting to work as an astronaut," she explained. headtopics.com

"I never really thought it would be an option, but when that opportunity came up earlier this year I had to throw my hat in the ring."However, with over 22,000 applicants for just four positions, I am just focusing really on how to maybe potentially strengthen my application for next time."

Dr Rooney is not pinning all her space hopes on just one scheme - in February, she will be involved in the PoSSUM Science Astronaut programme.It trains people to conduct astronautical research in suborbital flight."I will still get an opportunity to wear a space suit in the coming months regardless of whether ESA decides to make me an astronaut or not," Dr Rooney said.

Image source,Image caption,Dr Rooney pictured with fellow mathematigal Dr Jessica WilliamsDr Rooney wants to see more young women get involved in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and is using social media to inspire the next generation.

She and fellow mathematician Dr Jessica Williams, who she met at Oxford, run a website called Mathematigals.The aim of the website is to post free videos, quizzes and informative lessons with the aim of seeing more young women join them in their respective fields.

"If you like maths you can also do ballet, if you want to be a Nasa scientist you can also like the colour pink," Dr Rooney said."If you're interested in something don't be put off by stereotypes, STEM and science needs more girls, there is space for everyone."

Read more: BBC News (UK) »

Yemen: UN condemns airstrike on temporary detention centre that killed at least 82 people

On Friday, an airstrike at a temporary detention centre killed at least 82 people. The Houthi government has blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the attack but an official in the coalition has refuted the allegation. Read more >>

Yay fantastic 👏🏽👍🏽 But can you drop 15 kills on warzone 8 large peronis deep? 🤷‍♂️ Is that taken down the Antrim Road Ethiopia prevails! Africa prevails!

Nasa forces 1,000ft ISS 'swerve' to dodge debris 'headed towards station'NASA forced the ISS to swerve to avoid a possible debris collision. Flight controllers warned that a piece of rocket would pass very close to the ISS today – and conducted an evasive manoeuvre. The… Aren’t you forgetting how much space debris was created by the good ol’ US of A - that you guys never report?

Nasa forces 1,000ft ISS 'swerve' to dodge debris 'headed towards station'NASA forced the ISS to swerve to avoid a possible debris collision. Flight controllers warned that a piece of rocket would pass very close to the ISS today – and conducted an evasive manoeuvre. The… Aren’t you forgetting how much space debris was created by the good ol’ US of A - that you guys never report?

Mathematician pens number sequence to discover Adele's next album titleAdele's new album '30' has been universally praised by critics and fans but it's the numbers that have mathematicians excited - so much so that they've created an 'Adele sequence'

Mum who 'never smoked' gets dream wedding after heart-breaking cancer diagnosisHayley Adams had led a healthy and active life as a dedicated single mum to her son, but after meeting the love of her life all she wanted was to get married - until doctors turned her world upside down with a shock diagnosis

Employee gobsmacked after being asked to pay £15 towards CEO's Christmas presentAn unimpressed employee took to Reddit to complain after their HR department at work sent them an email requesting that they send over their £15 present contribution for their boss' presents This is like the biggest opportunity I had in making money from the comfort of the home, gratitude to Geoffreypreud this is really amazing..... I'm counting the racks like never before about $15,800. I think my job is actually a waste of time. Thank you Mr Geoffrey send a DM I've never been one for taking part in this piish in previous office roles.. some tube walking round with an envelope for 'karens' birthday.... fuuck off, I've known 'Karen' for about 3 days and your wanting me to chip in to get her a new double ender... get out my sight.

Johnson faces trust crisis as sleaze shatters faith in MPsPoll reveals huge public cynicism, with just 5% of respondents believing politicians work for public good wait, people ever trusted that twat? can i have some of whatever those people are smoking, must be good In Tory MPs. Don’t tarnish all MPs with the incompetent Tory MPs. I don't normally comment, but I felt compelled to add my voice to the thousands who have benefited from your generosity and expertise platform miss lisamiaBTC you are one of the precious few who genuinely look to give something back in this industry.