Israeli students develop mini-satellite to be launched from Russia

Tiny cube-shaped pico satellite developed, built by high school pupils to be sent into space in April.

January 7, 2014 19:20
1 minute read.
Micro satellite

Rocket carrying a micro satellite.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A miniature satellite only 10 centimeters long and weighing a few hundred grams built by Israeli high school students will be launched into space in April.

The Science, Technology and Space Ministry announced this as part of its preparations for Israel Space Week, which will begin on January 26.

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Called a pico satellite, the device was planned and constructed entirely by teens at the Herzliya Science High School.

The ministry said there have been such advanced technological developments recently that “any person” can build his own tiny satellite (though he needs help in getting it sent into space). Parts can easily be purchased via the Internet.

Israel is now joining this trend, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The pico satellite, called Duchifat (hoopoe, a bird), was built with help from the Israel Space Agency, which operates under the ministry’s auspices.

Some 40 pupils aged 16 and 17 at the Herzliya high school built the satellite, and it is now undergoing tests for sturdiness at Israel Aircraft Industry facilities.

The satellite is a cube of 10 centimeters, and thus is much cheaper to dispatch than a conventional satellite, which weighs hundreds of kilos and costs millions of dollars to launch. Its operating system, communications system, power and thermal insulation are crammed inside.

The satellite will help travelers who get lost to find their way even if there is no cellular phone reception. Electrical signals representing calls for help can be send via the satellite, which will broadcast to a center on Earth and send the message forward.

Since 70 percent of the Earth is covered with oceans, there are huge areas without cellular reception, the space agency said.

The tiny satellite will revolve at a height of 600 km. and remain in space for two years.

It will orbit the Earth every 90 minutes and cover the whole globe in a few hours. There is no other such satellite anywhere.

It will be launched from Russia with another 40 pico satellites as part of an international project.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration recently launched a pico satellite called GeneSat containing bacteria to see how the pathogens react to conditions of radiation and pressure. Pictures of the bacteria were sent back to Earth, and the effects were analyzed in real time.

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