Broadcast 2796 Dr. Moriba Jah

18 Oct 2016 Dr. Moriba K. Jah
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Guest:  Dr. Moriba Jah;  Topics:  Space Object Behavioral Sciences, spacecraft maneuvering, cultural bias with spacecraft & more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See

We welcomed Dr. Moriba Jah to the program to discuss new and developing field, Space Object Behavioral Sciences (SOB).  For more information, please visit Dr. Jah's UofA website which also serves as the new departments website,  We started our 62 minute one segment discussion by asking Dr. Jah to tell us about the new field of Space Object Behavior.  Our guest said that this new science was focused around assessing, predicting, and quantifying objects in space.  For now the focus was mostly on manmade objects, satellites for example, and how cultural bias of the designers impacts spacecraft behavior, especially at the end of a spacecraft's useful life.  The first example he cited to help us understand this dealt with how we in the US program satellite maneuvers, software updates and such for a Tuesday-Thursday period.  He said we avoid Fridays, weekends, holidays and Monday for obvious reasons.  Other countries do not follow this type of schedule for their space hardware.  He said this was an important cultural bias programmed into space hardware behavior.  Don't miss all of what he had to say on this topic.   

Listeners had many email questions for our guest.  Carl wanted to know about the availability of data bases for use in the cultural study of spacecraft maneuvering.  Several questions dealt with the differences with defense and national security satellites and hardware compared to commercial hardware.  Our guest said that all categories were designed to serve the needs of their customer so in one sense there were not significant differences in the behavior of the national security and defense spacecraft when compared to commercial spacecraft but then there were specifics he mentioned.  NOAA spacecraft were used as an example.

Moriba was asked several questions about space debris.  One of the things he said was that we needed to understand the debris, to view it as a group (LEO, GEO), not just as individual pieces, and that spacecraft deterioration over time can greatly influence how it will behave in space.  He talked about that gag and track process used on Earth for biological sciences and suggested we develop a similar system for space objects.  This prompted me to ask if spacecraft were designed with an understanding of how the object will behave once it has finished its useful life. I was surprised by what our guest said about the design process and spacecraft behavior so don't miss this discussion.  At one point he suggested that understanding spacecraft behavior required one to be a good detective.

Jerry from Florida sent in a question (it is on the blog) about using the second stage of the SpaceX ITS to help clean up space debris.  Our guest again talked about the need to understand the debris issues before attempting to resolve the issues.  Our guest indicated there was much we that we still needed to know about the way manmade objects were deteriorating and acting in their various space region, say LEO or GEO.  Moriba then referred us to the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) for more debris removal information and today's guidelines.  Our guest then took another question which asked if anything he was advocating or wanting to do had a space weapons application.  The answer was no.

Benny sent in a note asking about small satellites and cubesats wondering if he was interested in their behavior given they usually deorbit fairly soon after launch.  Our guest said they were very interested in this type of spacecraft.  Again, don't miss all of what he had to say on this topic as it was comprehensive.  One thing Moriba said that was definitely a takeaway statement was that spacecraft needed to be designed to be tracked, not just to be detectable. 

Our topic switched to the space behavior of deep space hardware including lunar, Martian or deep space mining hardware.  Moriba talked about how risky space business was plus how ambitious it has become, especially with the private sector.  He had much to say about deep space spacecraft hardware, especially designed and flown by the private sector.  Another question for our guest focused on the student interest in the topic and if teaching classes on this subject were of interest to the students.

Before our program ended, our guest spoke about natural objects which he said mainly fell to the jurisdiction of Planetary Defense.  Marshal got the last question in as he asked about using a type of space canon to break up debris so it would burn up falling back to Earth.  Moriba did not like the idea of breaking anything up in space. He used the infamous Chinese ASAT test as an example.  Before the program ended I asked our guest for his five year plan for this new field of study and his UofA department.  We did take a final email from Tom inquiring about ITAR and his work since he collaborate with foreign scientists and others.  Don't miss his ITAR comments.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog which is the archived program on our website.  You can reach Dr. Jah through is website or me.




Space object behavior!

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