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February 17, 2017 3:21 pm

Israel Launches First Nanosatellite for Scientific Research

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General view of a satellite station in the Ha-Ella Valley, Feb. 22, 2014. Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash 90.

General view of a satellite station in the Ha-Ella Valley, Feb. 22, 2014. Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash 90.

JNS.org – Israel launched its first nanosatellite — “BGUSAT” — earlier this week as part of an academic initiative by Ben-Gurion University that allows researchers to study climate change, agricultural and other scientific phenomena.

“BGUSAT is an important and affordable new tool to facilitate space engineering and research,” said Prof. Dan Blumberg, vice president and dean for research and development at BGU. “The reduced costs allow academia to assume a much more active role in the field, taking advantage of the innovation and initiative of researchers and students.”

The nanosatellite, which is only slightly larger than a milk cartoon, comes outfitted with visual and short wavelength infrared camera and will hover at 300 miles above the Earth’s surface. This will allow researchers to study a broad array of environmental phenomena, such as being able to track atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide and study the Earth’s airglow layer, which provides information about climate change.

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Given its small size and low orbit, the BGUSAT can change its angle and obtain views from multiple orbits and positions, something that larger satellites that orbit higher and weather balloons or planes, which fly too low, cannot do.

The nanosatellite was developed in partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Israel Ministry of Science, Technology and Space with seed funding coming from the American Associates of Ben-Gurion University (AABGU).

“This is the first time Israeli researchers will have the opportunity to receive information directly from a blue and white [Israeli] satellite without having to go through other countries or research agencies,” said Avi Blasberger, director of the Israel Space Agency.

The nanosatellite was launched earlier this week from the Satish Dhawan launching pad in India.

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