Dr. Moriba K. Jah

Moriba K. Jah, Aerospace Engineer and Astrodynamicist

Moriba Jah, director of the UA Space Object Behavioral Sciences initiative, brings to bear his experience -- navigating for NASA Mars missions and working for the Air Force in situational awareness -- as he steers the UA to being a world center of research and discovery on how objects behave in outer space.

Jah has led research programs in space object behavior assessment and prediction for the Air Force Research Laboratory since 2007. He directed the Air Force’s Advanced Sciences and Technology Research Institute for Astronautics, or ASTRIA, on Maui, Hawaii, for eight years, and for the last two years has headed the space situational awareness program at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As a spacecraft navigator (a title he shares with few people) for the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1999 to 2006, Jah charted courses for the Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Exploration Rovers and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. He also has participated in missions to the red planet for the European Space Agency, or ESA, and to asteroid Itokawa with the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

Jah, UA associate research scientist of engineering and associate research professor of engineering, received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, in 1999 and his master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 2001 and 2005.


He is a fellow in the American Astronautical Society, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Royal Astronomical Society, an associate fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a senior member and journal associate editor with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers journal Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems.  He has authored or co-authored more than 75 articles in astrodynamics, engineering and other professional peer-reviewed journals and is a popular speaker on the topic of spacecraft debris, which he calls "the unknown iceberg equivalent in space."

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