Postdoctoral Associate, Space Enabled

by Jessica Sisavath

Aug. 6, 2021

Job Description

 Professor Danielle Wood, director of the Space Enabled Research Group, is leading research on space sustainability and the potential designs of future Space Traffic Management Systems in collaboration with other scholars at MIT (such as Prof Richard Linares) and Prof Moriba Jah of the University of Texas at Austin. Space Sustainability in this context refers to ensuring that human activity does not limit future ability for space objects to operate safely in space and that services from human infrastructure in space can be performed reliably. The Space Enabled Research Group is a key member of the design team that developed the Space Sustainability Rating (SSR). The Space Sustainability Rating is an initiative that seeks to foster voluntary action by satellite operators to reduce the risk of space debris, on-orbit collisions, and unsustainable space operations. The concept for the Space Sustainability Rating was conceived by the Global Future Council on Space Technologies of the World Economic Forum through a series of workshops starting. The World Economic Forum held a competitive call for proposals in 2018 and selected a team composed of four organizations to design the Space Sustainability Rating; these organizations include the European Space Agency, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, and Bryce, Space and Technology. These four organizations formed a consortium with the World Economic Forum to define the technical and programmatic aspects of the Space Sustainability Rating during the period from 2019 through 2021. The Consortium brings expertise in the areas of modeling and evaluating the impact of space debris in Earth orbit, astrodynamics, characterization of space objects, technology policy, space economics and understanding of the role of emerging countries and private actors in the space sector.

Space Enabled is continuing academic research related to defining the Space Sustainability Rating, advancing Space Situational Awareness and preparing for the future design of a Space Traffic Management system. Space Enabled seeks a postdoctoral associate to join in ongoing projects related to performing quantitative analysis about the Detectability, Identifiability and Trackability of space objects, the risk posed by space objects on other objects in space, the performance of a space mission based on the Space Sustainability Rating and the technical actions that space operators can take to improve their score on the SSR. The selected researcher will serve as a Postdoctoral associate in the Space Enabled Research Group and join the team working on the Space Sustainability Rating and other topics linked to Space Sustainability and mitigation of space debris.

This is position is for one year with the possibility of extension. 


  • Work closely with Prof Wood and the other team members work on space sustainability research at MIT and beyond
  • Perform academic research to improve methods for measuring the sustainability of space missions, detecting/identifying/tracking space objects, estimating the impact of space objects on risk of collision or debris creation in orbit, designs for space traffic management systems. Produce software code, data analysis or simulations based on the goals of the team.
  • Work with the Director to plan and implement fundraising in support of the research goals
  • Work with the Director to plan and execute communication activities related to the research on space sustainability
  • Plan and participate in travel to meet with research collaborators or to present at conferences
  • Work with Principal Investigator to mentor graduate and undergraduate students that participate in the research
  • Conduct literature reviews related to the objectives of the Initiative

Supervision Received:

Professor Danielle Wood, Director of the Space Enabled Research Group at the Media Lab

Supervision Exercised:



  • Doctoral (or equivalent) degree in engineering, science, social science or policy, especially with a focus on astrodynamics, space situational awareness, modeling of orbital objects, knowledge graphs, satellite design, space policy, space systems engineering or space object detection.
  • Experience performing academic research
  • Experience publishing academic publications
  • Experience teaching or co-teaching graduate or undergraduate classes
  • Excellent English writing, speaking and presentation skills
  • Skills or experience in coordinating with academic leaders, faculty, students and staff to enabled scholarly activities
  • Knowledge of academic literature related to space sustainability, space debris mitigation, space situational awareness and space traffic management
  • Demonstrated interest in multidisciplinary research and technology policy
  • Ability to function both independently and in teams, playing both leadership and coordinating roles
  • Strong organizational skills

To apply, go to and search for job ID#19989.

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