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University of Arizona to Launch Space Object Behavioral Sciences Initiative

By | January 12, 2016
      Moriba Jah will spearhead efforts in space object behavioral sciences, part of the University of Arizona's Defense and Security Research Institute.

      Moriba Jah will spearhead efforts in space object behavioral sciences, part of the University of Arizona’s Defense and Security Research Institute. Photo: University of Arizona

      [Via Satellite 01-12-2016] Moriba Jah, a spacecraft navigator for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Odyssey and other NASA missions to Mars, is joining the University of Arizona’s College of Engineering and the Office for Research & Discovery to direct a new initiative to make the University of Arizona a world center of research and discovery on how objects behave in outer space.

      The initiative is focused on space object behavioral sciences — the examination of objects in space, which includes locating satellites, studying the movement of objects in space and space traffic management. It will be part of the University’s Defense and Security Research Institute.

      “What MIT was for the Apollo space program, I’d like the UA to be for space domain awareness,” Jah said.

      Space object behavioral sciences addresses the causes for why and how objects behave in space. These inputs are not only due to the space environment, but also due to laws, policies, regulations and guidelines. This knowledge is critical to not only locating satellites and spacecraft debris, but also predicting their movement, preventing collisions and protecting space capabilities and services from loss, interruption and degradation.

      “People work in different domains — land, maritime, airspace, cyberspace,” Jah said. “Outer space is another domain that requires surveillance, traffic control and protection. We are creating a new harmonized field comprised of both new and old disciplines that need to be integrated in order to meet global needs. Space object behavioral sciences is this field. We shall become experts and thought leaders on how to gather a body of evidence on the behaviors of objects in outer space, identify threats or hazards, and present quantifiable findings to decision makers.”

      Jah, an aerospace engineer and astrodynamicist, will be based in the UA College of Engineering as an associate research scientist of engineering and associate research professor of engineering.