A joint declaration by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Israel Space Agency was signed on Wednesday that will make Israel a member of the NASA Center for Moon Research and promote cooperation between the two agencies.
The declaration was signed by NASA director Charles Bolden and ISA director Dr. Zvi Kaplan.
Bolden came to Israel also to attend the Fifth International Ilan Ramon Conference at the Fischer Institute for Strategic Research in Herzliya. The conference is being held in memory of Israel Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon, who died in NASA's Columbia space shuttle that crashed seven years ago. Science and Technology Minister Prof. Daniel Herschkowitz participated in the signing ceremony.
The agreement recognizes the Israel Network for Lunar Science and Exploration (INLSE) and establishes the country as a part of an international effort to study the moon and the solar system.
INLSE was established by the ISA - which is part of the Science and Technology Ministry - and officially represents the Israeli scientific community working in the planetary sciences. The network will be integrated with similar ones in other countries, such as Canada and South Korea, and already has joint research teams.
NASA was eager to have INLSE on board because it offers important research involving lasers, the development of advanced sensors for solar system research tasks and automatic vehicle navigation.
Special stress was put in the declaration on scientific discoveries involving miniature radar technologies, in which Israelis are leading experts.
Herschkowitz stated that Israel is a "power in the field of science, and there are quite a few technologies in which we lead the world, such as propulsion systems for satellites, micro-satellites, light-weight satellites, advanced multi-layer cameras and more.
"The Americans are very interested in integrating Israeli knowhow and technology into their projects, and there is much importance and value in our cooperation."
Among those in the network are Ben-Gurion University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology representatives, who led the dialogue with NASA.