Weekly Space Hangout: 22-DEC-2021 – Cleaning Up Earth’s Space Debris with Dr. Jake Abbott

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This week we are excited to welcome Dr. Jake Abbott, director of the Telerobotics Laboratory at the University of Utah to the WSH. The proliferation of Space Debris has become an increasingly alarming reality. In fact, as recently as December 3, 2021, “The International Space Station (ISS) had to swerve away from a fragment of a U.S. launch vehicle” (source: https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/international-space-station-swerves-dodge-space-junk-2021-12-03/). In a paper published in November 2021 in the science journal Nature , Jake and his research team have proposed a new method of dealing with the debris: using a series of spinning magnets to move these objects. You can read more about their proposed solution here.

Jake Abbott is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah, and he is the director of the Telerobotics Laboratory. He joined the University of Utah in 2008. Before coming to Utah, he spent three years in Switzerland as a postdoctoral researcher working with Brad Nelson at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich. Dr. Abbott received his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 2005 working with Allison Okamura, his M.S. from the University of Utah in 2001, and his B.S. from Utah State University in 1999, all in Mechanical Engineering.

Jake Abbott’s research has been funded by the NSF (including the CAREER Award), the NIH, NASA, the Air Force, and industry. He and his co-authors have won a number of Best Paper and Best Poster Awards at international conferences. He is currently an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Robotics Research, and was previously an Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Robotics.

In Jake’s spare time, he’s a movie buff, a foodie, and an all-around supporter of the arts and the community in Salt Lake City. Jake’s wife is a flamenco dancer and instructor in Salt Lake City, and he plays guitar and sings as part of her group.

You can learn more about Jake and his research by visiting his Telerobotics Lab website as well as his University of Utah faculty website.

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