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Space Surveillance and Tracking: Challenges for Unique Space Object Identification and Space Traffic Management

  • Feb 26, 2018
  • 4:00 p.m.
  • 260 New Classroom Building
  • Dr. Moriba Jah, University of Texas Austin
  • Faculty Host: Dr. Mark Psiaki

Abstract: The United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) has developed and maintains a database of approximately 23000 objects the size of a cell phone and as large as a bus. Out of those, only about 1500 are working satellites and all else is space debris, rubbish as it were. The space domain began as an environment with only a handful of state actors and now is populated with objects either owned or funded by over 60 countries. The man-made space object population is growing at an alarming rate and not all objects are trackable for a variety of reasons. All space objects are modeled as spheres. There is no scientific taxonomy for classifying or understanding the currently tracked man-made space object population. The data collected on this population is sparse, biased, noisy, corrupt, and incomplete. The world is invoking a global space traffic management system with norms of behavior that all space actors can adhere to. However, we lack the sufficient knowledge about what is on-orbit, where it came from, where it is going, and what it can do. The ASTRIA research program at UT Austin, led by Dr Moriba Jah aims to provide a credible solution to this wicked problem. He will motivate the research, provide some meaningful examples of ways to possible address it, and seek your involvement.

Bio: Dr. Moriba Jah is an Associate Professor in the Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department at the University of Texas at Austin, and directs the ASTRIA research program. 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.

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.  He received his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder specializing in astrodynamics and statistical orbit determination.  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. Dr. Jah has served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS), provided formal expert testimony to congress, and is the chair of the NATO SCI-279-TG activity on defining a Common NATO Space Domain Awareness Operating Picture. Dr. Jah founded the American Astronautical Society’s (AAS) Space Surveillance Technical Committee and is the Chair of the AIAA Astrodynamics Technical Committee. He is a member of the Astrodynamics Technical Committee of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and a permanent member of the Space Debris Technical Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). Dr. Jah is a Fellow of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), the AFRL, the AAS and the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), as well as an AIAA Associate Fellow, IEEE Senior Member, Associate Editor of Elsevier’s Advances in Space Research Journal. 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 many national and international space events, workshops, and fora.