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Moriba Kemessia Jah (born 1971) is an American space scientist and aerospace engineer known for his contributions to orbit determination and prediction especially as related to space situational awareness and space traffic monitoring. He is currently an associate professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin. Jah previously worked as a spacecraft navigator at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he was a navigator for the Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Exploration Rover, and his last mission was the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety and, the Royal Astronomical Society. Jah was also selected into the 10th anniversary class of TED Fellows. He also was selected into the AIAA class of Fellows and Honorary Fellows in the year of the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11. The AIAA "confers the distinction of Fellow upon individuals in recognition of their notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics and astronautics." 
Early life and education
Jah was born in San Francisco, California to Elsie Turnier from Port-Au-Prince Haiti and Abraham Jah from Pujehun Sierra Leone. Jah's parents divorced when he was 2 years old. He moved to Venezuela at the age of 6. Jah studied at the Cap(f) Pedro Ma. Ochoa Morales National Guard military high school in Venezuela.
Following his enlistment, he studied Aerospace Engineering at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott Arizona and earned a bachelor's degree in 1999. He was inspired to become an astrodynamicist by Ron Madler. As an undergraduate student, Jah was awarded a NASA space grant, which allowed him to investigate lunar gravity assist trajectories for Earth orbit plane changes.
He went to the University of Colorado Boulder for his graduate studies, earning a master's in 2001 and PhD, under the supervision of George Born, in 2005. During his PhD he worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a navigation engineer, developing the navigation algorithms and performing orbit determination for several missions, including the Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey and Mars Exploration Rover. His doctoral thesis looked at aerobraking spacecraft, using an Unscented Kalman Filter to estimate the spacecraft trajectory and explore this as a possible way to automate aerobraking operations.
In 2006, Jah left NASA JPL and became a Senior Scientist at Oceanit Laboratories on Maui, where he used optical data to determine space trajectories. He was awarded the NASA Space Act Award "for the creative development of a scientific contribution which has been determined to be of significant value in the advancement of the space and aeronautical activities of NASA, and is entitled: Inertial Measurements for Aero-assisted Navigation (IMAN)" in 2007.
In 2007 Jah joined the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). He directed the AFRL Advanced Sciences and Technology Research Institute for Astronautics (ASTRIA) in Maui from 2007 to 2010 and then at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico until 2014. At Kirtland Air Force Base Jah was made mission lead in Space Situational Awareness and advised the satellite guidance and control program.
He left the AFRL in 2016 to become an associate professor at the University of Arizona. He served as director of the University of Arizona's Space Object Behavioral Sciences initiative. Here he developed techniques to track and understand the more than 23,000 human-made objects that are inside Earth's orbit, of which only ≈ 1,500 are operational.
In 2017, Jah joined the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin. He is interested in non-gravitational astrodynamics and using big data in astrodynamics through a Resource Description Framework. He created ASTRIAGraph, the first knowledge graph database for space traffic management. The software is designed to monitor space debris and has been compared by Jah to the defence against the dark arts class of Harry Potter. He is building models of space debris that look to quantify the space object population.
Jah is concerned because the United States Strategic Command cannot accurately track all satellites, and their current data could be biased, noisy and corrupt. He gave formal congressional testimony to the Federal government of the United States in 2017, discussing a Civil Space Traffic Management system. He believes that we should create a global, accessible, and transparent space traffic management system, which would protect spacecraft from debris and a lack of monitoring.
He was elected to the International Academy of Astronautics in July 2018. Jah has served as a member of the delegation at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and chairs the NATO SCI-279-TG activity on Space Domain Awareness. He was appointed as Core Faculty to the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences in 2018 where he directs the Computational Astronautical Sciences and Technologies group (a.k.a. The CAST). He has discussed astrodynamics and space policy on NPR, the BBC as well as featuring in the National Geographic.
Jah is married with three children.
At the University of Texas at Austin, Jah is also a Distinguished Scholar of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. Jah's research interests are focused upon the detection, tracking, identification, and characterization of resident space objects. The goal is to quantify, assess, and predict the behavior of all resident space objects, both natural and human-made. Jah's published works span the areas of space situational awareness, space traffic management, spacecraft navigation, space surveillance and tracking, multi-source information fusion, and more recently the intersection with space security and safety. He has previously served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems and is currently for the Elsevier Advances in Space Research.
Awards and recognition
|2001||NASA Group Achievement Award and Aviation Week & Space Technology Laurel Award "for the superb navigation of the Mars Odyssey spacecraft to Mars"|
|2010||Elected to Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers|
|2011||Elected to Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics|
|2013||Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate Technology Transfer/Transition Achievement Award|
|2014||Elected to Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society|
|2014||Elected to Fellow of the American Astronautical Society|
|2015||Elected to Fellow of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety|
|2015||Elected to Fellow of the Air Force Research Laboratory|
|2016||University of Colorado Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award (DEAA)|
|2018||Elected as Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics|
|2019||Selected as TED Fellow|
|2019||Conferred as Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics "For thought leadership and innovative technical contributions in the fields of space situational awareness, space traffic management, and astrodynamics.”|
|2019||Selected as one of 25 "People racing to save us" of WIRED25 by the Wired (magazine) ”|
|2020||Selected as a Public Voices Fellow by the Op-Ed Project”|
- "Meet the 2019 TED Fellows and Senior Fellows". TED Blog. 2019-01-23. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
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- "Space Junk(ie)". Lift Magazine. 2018-03-30. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
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- Jah, Moriba Kemessia (2005). "Mars aerobraking spacecraft state estimation by processing inertial measurement unit data". Ph.D. Thesis. Bibcode:2005PhDT........64J.
- mars.nasa.gov. "Moriba Jah". NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Momentum Member Spotlight â€" June 2016 : The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics". www.aiaa.org. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- Jah, M.; Madler, R. (2007). "Satellite Characterization: Angles and Light Curve Data Fusion for Spacecraft State and Parameter Estimation". Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference: E49. Bibcode:2007amos.confE..49J.
- Posted by Daniel Leuck on August 6, 2009 at 10:30am; Blog, View. "Featured Techie: Astrodynamicist Moriba Jah". www.techhui.com. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
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- "ASTRIAGraph, the very first RDF-based Knowledge Graph for Space Traffic monitoring, is now live as a demo!". sites.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "ASTRIAGraph". astria.tacc.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Astriagraph software program combats space junk - The Daily Texan". www.dailytexanonline.com. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- Deoras, Srishti (2017-05-04). "Interview with Moriba K. Jah, an Astrodynamicist & Space Expert". Analytics India Magazine. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- Evans, Steve (2018-11-09). "Watch out, there's a lot of space junk about". Canberra Times. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Space Surveillance and Tracking: Challenges for Unique Space Object Identification and Space Traffic Management". aoe.vt.edu. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "MWI PODCAST: WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE US MILITARY IN SPACE?". mwi.usma.edu. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
- "Reopening the American Frontier: Promoting Partnerships Between Commercial Space and the U.S. Government to Advance Exploration and Settlement" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 2019-01-26.
- Society, British Interplanetary (2018-10-07). "The 2018 Sir Arthur Clarke Awards Finalists Announced". The British Interplanetary Society. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
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- "Moriba Jah Elected to International Academy of Astronautics". sites.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Moriba Jah". The Strauss Center. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences | University of Texas at Austin". ICES. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Computational Astronautical Sciences and Technologies". www.ices.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
- "Moriba Jah". Source of the Week. 2018-08-15. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "BBC World Service - Science in Action, Can Science Save the Northern White Rhino?". BBC. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- Scott, Elfy. "Scientists Think They Might Be Able To Solve The Space Junk Problem – By Shooting Lasers At It". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Get Ready for Artificial Meteor Showers". National Geographic News. 2016-06-14. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- Stockton, Nick (2017-07-17). "Ted Cruz Asks Space Capitalists How to Make Orbit Great Again". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Moriba Jah, 1999 Embry-Riddle Space Grant Intern, featured on NPR Source of the Week! | Arizona Space Grant Consortium". spacegrant.arizona.edu. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
- "Distinguished Scholar". strausscenter.org. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
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- "The Quest to Conquer Earth's Space Junk Problem".
- "There's an empty trash bag circling our planet".
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- "IAASS Fellow Member joins UA".
- "2015 Air Force Research Laboratory Fellows".
- "University of Colorado at Boulder Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award".
- "2018 International Academy of Astronautics Elected Members".
- "TED Fellow Profile of Moriba Jah". ted.com. 2019-01-23. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
- "AIAA Announces Its Class of 2019 Fellows and Honorary Fellows". aiaa.org. 2019-02-04. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
- "Stories of People Racing to Save US". wired.com. 2019-12-04. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
- "Faculty Members Receive Prestigious Public Voices Fellowship". utexas.edu. 2020-02-19. Retrieved 2020-02-19.