Two Israeli nano-satellites are scheduled for takeoff on Wednesday. The satellites are to be launched on a launcher from the Indian Space Research Organization.
These civilian satellites are designed for research purposes. One will be part of a Ben Gurion University of the Negev research project, while the other, which belongs to Israeli company SpacePharma, is designed for medical experiments. The satellites were developed with the help of the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.
The Ben Gurion University satellite, which is the size of a milk carton and weighs only five kilograms, was developed in the cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1). The satellite, called BGUSAT (Ben Gurion University of the Negev Satellite) is designed for climate research. It is equipped with an advanced camera capable of detecting various climatic phenomena. Its control system makes it possible to select and focus areas for photography. Despite its miniature size, the satellite will enable researchers involved in its outer space tasks to receive from it high-quality photographs hitherto obtainable only from foreign satellites at great cost. "Nano-satellites facilitate space engineering and research at very low cost, compared with the past," Ben Gurion University deputy, VP, and Dean for Research and Development Prof. Dan Blumberg said today. "This situation will enable academic institutions to take a far more active role in this sphere, and will encourage innovation and entrepreneurship on the part of researchers and students." Ben Gurion University said today that it was the only Israel institution of higher learning, and only one of five outside the US, to be a partner in NASA's network of planetary laboratories.
Ben Gurion University's satellite can be aimed in space to search for important information through a directional control system. Its main research task will be gathering data from parts of the atmosphere. It will also be used for comparisons between types of information obtained from nano-satellites with types of information obtained from large satellites costing much more. The photos taken by the satellite will be transmitted to a ground station built in Beer Sheva.
The Israel Space Agency said that it had already asked academic institutions in Israel for research proposals based on the data received by the satellite and broadcast to the ground station.
SpacePharma's nano-satellite will be launched together with that of Ben Gurion University. The company said that for the first time ever, a nano-satellite will contain a laboratory accommodating four experiments controlled by a team of researchers using a special app. The data from the experiments will be transmitted to Earth, and the researchers will be able to view them in real time and control how they are conducted using the smartphone, so that the experiment can be changed according to the results obtained.
SpacePharma's 4.5-kilogram nano-satellite is even smaller than that of Ben Gurion University and IAI. In the framework of its planned tasks, it will examine the effect of weightlessness on materials, one of which is related to research led by Israeli researcher Prof. Ehud Gazit, head of the Nanomedicine for Personalized Theranostics research group at Tel Aviv University, who is investigating peptide self-assembly under zero gravity conditions. The company plans to launch another research satellite, or a "flying space lab," as the company calls it, over the coming year. The second satellite will accommodate four more experiments: two from the US and two Israeli experiments. In the future, the company plans to operate space labs capable of accommodating no fewer than 160 simultaneous experiments.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on February 13, 2017
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