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A first of its kind nanosatellite, based on a new dedicated computer will be launched into space on February 15, 2017. It will be outfitted with innovative new cameras that can detect climate changes, to conduct Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) scientific missions.

BGUSAT, Israeli academia’s first nanosatellite, is the result of a joint project between BGU, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.

The satellite, 10x10x30 centimeters (a little bit larger than a milk carton) and weighing just five kilograms, is outfitted with innovative new cameras that can detect climate phenomena and a guidance system that lets the operators choose the areas to shoot and research through a dedicated ground station at BGU.  

According to the press release, the nanosatellite will be launched on the PSLV launcher from a launching pad in India along with 103 other nanosatellites.

Prof. Dan Blumberg, BGU’s VP and Dean for R&D, said, “Nanosatellites enable space engineering and space research at costs that are affordable for academia. 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.”  

For the first time, a dedicated computer with computing power similar to those of the larger satellites, but developed specifically for nanosatellites by the space division, has been installed. This computer has already been integrated into the SpaceIL spacecraft and the three Samson satellites. In addition, the space division and MicroGic Electronics have developed a unique camera that works in the short infrared range and can photograph a large array of weather phenomena. Through the BGUSAT cameras, researchers will be able to track atmospheric gases like CO2 in order to understand climate change, to examine changes in ground moisture that could be an indicator of desertification and affect agricultural development or to monitor plant development in different regions.  

A direction control system will allow researchers to position the satellite to take pictures of specific regions and supply vital information to the researches. The scientific mission will focus on collecting data from parts of the atmosphere according to the researchers requirement (regions with short infra-red waves). Another research focus will be the comparison of the type of information supplied by a nanosatellite to the information supplied by large satellites.

The BGU students and researchers who worked on BGUSAT integrated knowledge from a variety of fields such as software engineering, electrical engineering, planetary sciences, industrial engineering and management and more to enable a weather research.

In addition to the funding of the satellite’s launch, the Israel Space Agency has allocated NIS 1 million to fund future research based on the data to be received from the satellite and sent out a call for proposals for researches to be conducted on the basis of the data supplied by the nano satellite. .