Next-Gen Israeli Satellite to Seek out Cosmic Explosions and Black Holes

August 12, 2019

The Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) of the Ministry of Science and Technology are heading an international project to further study the universe.

Weighing in at just about 160 kg, a new type of a scientific satellite is planned to be built in Israel over the next four years, with a projected launch date of 2023.

The satellite, known as ULTRASAT, will carry a telescope designed to observe the Universe as it has not been seen it before: It will operate in a range of light that is normally invisible to us (ultraviolet) with a very large field of view.

“This unique configuration will help us answer some of the big questions in astrophysics,” said the Weizmann Institute’s Professor Eli Waxman, ULTRASAT’s principle investigator.

These include the formation process of dense neutron stars that merge and emit gravitational waves, how supermassive black holes rule their neighbourhoods, how stars explode, where the heavy elements in the Universe come from, the properties of stars that could have habitable planets and more.

The WIS and ISA recently agreed to initiate work on the project this coming September; in parallel they are conducting an effort to secure the budget for the entire project. This agreement was reached just as the German DESY Research Center of the Helmholtz Association pledged its support and cooperation for the initiative. Negotiations are also under way with other major space agencies to get ULTRASAT off the ground.

The project is expected to cost some $70 M over a projected four years of detailed planning, construction and launch.

The ULTRASAT spacecraft will be constructed by the Israeli industries, “putting Israel – and Israeli scientists and engineers – at the forefront of a global movement to explore the Universe with small, affordable satellites,” said ISA’s director Avi Blasberger.

ISA’s chairman Professor Itzhak Ben Israel added: “Israeli researchers are embarking on an exciting and challenging journey to put ULTRASAT into orbit.”

“A small country – and a small satellite – can produce big results, even in exploring the wonders of distant outer space,” concluded WIS president, Professor Daniel Zajfman.

 

More Research

A New Approach to Tailoring Cancer Therapy: Tapping into Signalling Activities in Cancer Cells

Choosing the right drug for each cancer patient is key to successful treatment, but currently physicians have few reliable pointers to guide them in designing treatment protocols. Researchers at the…

eastRead More

Stem Cell Reprogramming Made Easier

Weizmann Institute scientists show that removing one protein from adult cells enables them to efficiently turn back the clock to a stem-cell-like state Embryonic stem cells have the enormous potential…

eastRead More

Why the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ is keeping scientists up at night

Imagine a living room that switches off the lights when everybody’s gone to bed. A clothes iron that, if left on in an empty house, sends a message to your…

eastRead More

Right Off the Bat: Navigation in Extra-Large Spaces

New research at the Weizmann Institute of Science has found that bats navigating in an innovative extra-large experimental setup reveals an unknown neuronal code. The brain is often likened to…

eastRead More

View All