Israeli research satellite broadcasts 1st images from space

The satellite will help scientists develop methods for characterizing the Jerusalem ecosystem, thus helping prevent forest fires.

August 24, 2017 03:47
2 minute read.
Jerusalem as seen by the Venus satellite

Jerusalem as seen by the Venus satellite. (photo credit: SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND SPACE MINISTRY)


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The first images from Venus – the research satellite of the Science and Technology Ministry’s Israel Space Agency that was launched at the beginning of this month – have been received, including a photo of the Jerusalem area.

An image taken by the satellite’s sophisticated camera enables us to see Jerusalem and its environs in unprecedented quality, while distinguishing among different ground details.

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said on Wednesday, upon publication of the pictures, that the beauty of Jerusalem is seen also from space. The success of launching Venus is reflected in the first pictures received, and this is only the beginning, he said. In the coming years, humanity will enjoy the photographs that will help groundbreaking studies in the fields of the environment, earth sciences, water and food, he continued.

The Jerusalem area is prone to frequent raging fires, mainly during periods of heat and drought. The information that will come from Venus will help scientists develop new methods for characterizing the ecosystem in the region, understanding and reducing the risk factors, and will also advance the study of global warming. The picture of Jerusalem illustrates the kind of information that the satellite will produce in the coming years to further studies that will affect agriculture, government policy in a range of areas, and economics, the ministry said.

The research satellite is a collaboration between the Israel Space Agency and the French Space Agency. The satellite was built at Israel Aerospace Industries and includes a multispectral camera on 21 wavelengths developed at Elbit, and a electric motor developed at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The satellite was successfully launched on August 2, and since then has undergone a series of tests of various systems. Images are generated by 12 sensors, each photographing at a different wavelength.

Each image produced by Venus covers about 740 square kilometers and consists of 21 layers of information, thanks to the wide variety of colors – some of which are not visible to the human eye – and details that cannot be identified on Earth or via a regular camera.

In addition to the picture of Jerusalem, the satellite also transmitted pictures of the French city of Marseille, fields near Phoenix, Arizona, and tropical forests in Peru. Every two days, the satellite photographs about 110 research areas around the world that represent areas of agriculture, nature and ecology.

The photographed areas will include most of the national parks and nature reserves, forests and ecological stations in Israel. The images will be provided to universities, government authorities and research institutes.

The images of Israel arrive at the research center headed by Prof. Arnon Karnieli, at the Sde Boker campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The center serves as the operational arm of the ministry.

The Israel Space Agency invested NIS 5 million to conduct research on satellite projects. One of the first research projects to be used in the satellite’s simulations is that of high-school pupils from Rishon Lezion and Rehovot, at a cost of NIS 500,000.

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