The Defense Ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on Tuesday released the first photos taken by the “Ofek 16” spy satellite, showing the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria.
Engineers at the ministry’s Space Administration and IAI are preparing the aerial probe for operational use.
The photos released from its first photo-run show the UNESCO heritage site in central Syria, along with its ancient ruins and famous Roman amphitheater.
The “Ofek 16”, which was successfully launched into orbit on July 6, carries an Elbit Systems’ electro-optic, high-resolution camera, one of the most advanced systems in operation today.
Hundreds of millions of shekels were invested in the infrastructure needed for the production of space cameras, including labs for the production of lenses and mirrors, as well as a vacuum chamber that simulates conditions in space, which is used to test satellite cameras before their launched.
After the probe completes its “in-orbit testing,” the ministry plans to transfer operation of the satellite to the IDF’s 9900 Intelligence Unit, responsible for collecting imagery intelligence (IMINT) from aerial and satellite imagery.”
“The State of Israel knows how to defend against its enemies both near and far, as well as to protect its citizens everywhere, from any given location,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
“The technological means we develop in the Defense Ministry, together with our industries, are effective and significant tools in maintaining Israel’s security. We will continue to work and promote Israel’s technological advances and its edge, essential when contending with the many challenges we face,” he added.