Moriba Jah: The Scientist Saving Humanity from It’s Self

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In Hollywood SCI-FI movies that have the lone scientist working in a lab to save world, none of those heroes look like Moriba Jah. Well with the with exception of Will Smith’s character in 2007’s, I am legend.

Moriba is a genius (and not because he is a scientist), he is a winner of the 2022 MacArthur Genius Foundation grants. Some people also refer to the astrodynamicist as a, “Space Environmentalist”.

Lot of people may not know that besides polluting our planet, we are now very quickly polluting space itself. With every launch from one of Elon Musk’s, or Nasa’s rockets, more trash stays in space for years.

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That’s where Moriba Jah comes into the picture, he wants to clean up space itself. He and legendary Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak, formed a private company to tackle the problem of space trash buildup. It is of paramount importance for humanity’s space faring future that he succeeds, in order to prevent what’s called a Kessler syndrome.

Moriba Jah MacArthur Genius Foundation grant winner

What is the Kessler syndrome, and is it dangerous?

Kessler Syndrome, named after Kessler NASA scientist Donald Kessler, is a theoretical phenomenon in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) becomes so great that each object has an increasingly likely chance of colliding with another.

The result of these multiple collisions would create even more space debris and eventually cause a cascade effect in which even more debris is created and the probability of collisions increases exponentially.

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This phenomenon could severely limit our ability to explore space beyond Earth’s orbit, or worse yet, make certain paths impassable due to the dangers of colliding with the Kessler Syndrome-generated objects orbiting around us. It is important that we look into and develop strategies for controlling this type of space pollution before it becomes too much for us to handle.

Who is Moriba Jah?

Moriba Jah is a research scientist, aerospace engineer, and professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also the founder and director of the Autonomous Systems and Synthetic Perception Laboratory, which focuses on the development of autonomous systems and perception technologies for aerospace, robotics, and other applications.

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Jah has authored or co-authored over 100 articles, book chapters, and reports on topics including autonomous navigation, machine learning, and control theory. He has also served as the principal investigator in several aerospace and robotics research projects, and is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Institute of Navigation.

Moriba Jah speaks at TED