Space Enabled Welcomes Affiliated Researcher Prof Moriba Jah




by Alessandra Davy-Falconi

May 26, 2021


Space Enabled welcomes Professor Moriba K. Jah, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at The University of Texas Austin, as an Affiliated Researcher. Prof Jah collaborates with Space Enabled in the broad field of space sustainability. Currently, Professor Jah serves as an Associate Professor with Tenure at the University of Texas at Austin and holds the Mrs. Pearlie Dashiell Henderson Centennial Fellowship in Engineering. In addition, Prof Jah is Director of the Computational Astronautical Sciences and Technologies group within the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences. Prof Jah is a world-recognized leader in the fields of orbital determination of Anthropogenic (human-generated) Space Objects, astrodynamics and space traffic management with contributions in the areas of data engineering and data science, space policy, and commercialization. Prof Jah produces scholarship, advice, and prototypes that are directly influencing how the United States and countries around the world create the first systems for Space Traffic Management.

Prof Jah and Space Enabled will pursue a research portfolio on Space Sustainability and Space Environmentalism. Prof Jah, Prof Wood and Prof Richard Linares of MIT Aero/Astro already collaborate on Space Traffic Management, which is poorly understood and has consequences upon many aspects of daily life for people from every background. Satellites operating in orbit around the Earth are part of a vital network of infrastructure that provides services including environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, scientific observations, positioning, communications and disaster response. While many aspects of transportation, financial exchange, energy distribution, supply chain management and manufacturing depend on satellite-based infrastructure, the contributions of the space-based systems are often invisible. Meanwhile, several trends are leading to an unprecedented increase in the number of Anthropogenic Space Objects (ASOs) orbiting the Earth, especially at popular lower orbits below 1000 kilometers above the ground. While the number of objects in orbit is increasing, so too is the uncertainty about where objects are and the level of risk they pose for catastrophic collisions. Prof Jah’s research advances methods to Detect, Identify and Track objects in space using non-traditional approaches that draw on all possible information that can be inferred from ground-based measurements. In addition, Prof Jah’s work proposes methods that combine advanced computational approaches with creative business and policy models to suggest ways to design a functional Space Traffic Management System. This work builds on the ASTRIAGraph Orbit Determination and Visualization System hosted by Prof Jah at UT Austin. Currently, the world does not have a system to coordinate all satellites in orbit that would parallel the coordination of aircraft as they take off and land at airports. While the needs for Space Traffic Management are different from the analogous atmospheric systems, the increasing number of satellite constellations that seek to operate thousands of new satellites over the next decade require new models of coordination.

Prof Jah has been a key member of the design team for the Space Sustainability Rating in collaboration with Space Enabled, the European Space Agency, Bryce Tech and the World Economic Forum. The Space Sustainability Rating is an initiative that seeks to foster voluntary action by satellite operators to reduce the risk of space debris, on-orbit collisions, and unsustainable space operations. To this project, Prof Jah lends his technical expertise in astrodynamics and multi-source information fusion through transdisciplinary research to an area with significant societal impact: protecting the space environment for long-term sustainability and ensuring it can be used to humanity’s benefit for decades to come. In support of this collaboration, Prof Jah served as thesis co-advisor for Space Enabled Masters Students, Riley Stiendl and Maya Slavin, as they developed a model describing evaluating a space object based on how difficult it is to detect, identify and track from Earth


Dr. Moriba Jah joined the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at UT Austin in 2017. His research interests are in non-gravitational astrodynamics and advanced/non-linear multi-sensor/object tracking, prediction, and information fusion. His expertise is in space object detection, tracking, identification, and characterization, as well as spacecraft navigation.

He received his BS in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona, and his MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder specializing in astrodynamics and statistical orbit determination.

Prior to being at UT Austin, Dr. Jah was the Director of the University of Arizona’s Space Object Behavioral Sciences with applications to Space Domain Awareness, Space Protection, Space Traffic Monitoring, and Space Debris research to name a few. Preceding that, Dr. Jah was the lead for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Advanced Sciences and Technology Research Institute for Astronautics (ASTRIA) and a Principal Investigator for Detect/Track/Id/Characterize Program at AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

Before joining AFRL in 2007, he was a spacecraft navigator for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, serving on Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express (joint mission with ESA), Mars Exploration Rovers, Hayabusa (joint mission with JAXA), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Prof Jah is a Fellow of multiple organizations: TED, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Astronautical Society (AAS), International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). He has served on the US delegation to the United Nations Committee On Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS), is an elected Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and has testified to congress on his work as related to Space Situational Awareness and Space Traffic Management. He’s an Associate Editor of the IAA and Elsevier Acta Astronautica journal, and serves on multiple committees: IAA Space Traffic Management, IAA Space Debris, AIAA Astrodynamics, IAF Astrodynamics, and IAF Space Security.

Dr. Jah is a world-recognized subject matter expert in astrodynamics-based Space Domain Awareness sciences and technologies with 75+ publications in peer-reviewed journals, conferences, and symposia. He’s been an invited lecturer and keynote speaker at 20+ national and international space events, workshops and fora.


Dr. Moriba Jah

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