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NASA to Launch Israel’s First Space Telescope – ULTRASAT

ULTRASAT

ULTRASAT Illustration (Photo credit Weizmann Institute of Science)

Israel’s first space telescope mission, the Ultraviolet Transient Astronomy Satellite (ULTRASAT), is set to be launched into space by none other than NASA. Led by the Israel Space Agency and Weizmann Institute of Science, ULTRASAT is planned for launch into geostationary orbit around Earth in early 2026. In addition to providing the launch service, NASA will also participate in the mission’s science program.

Israel is known as Startup Nation for its high-tech sector. But the country is also known for its advanced scientific research, including in the fields of physics and space exploration. Israel has even launched its own satellites into space.

Through the agreement between NASA and the Israel Space Agency, NASA will provide the launch opportunity, Flight Payload Adapter, and other launch-related responsibilities for ULTRASAT. The Israel Space Agency will deliver the completed observatory to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch.

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ISA said ULTRASAT is expected to revolutionize scientists’ ability to detect and analyze transient events in the universe, such as neutron star mergers and supernova explosions.

ULTRASAT’s wide field of view will allow it to quickly discover and capture ultraviolet light from sources in the cosmos that change on short timescales. Researchers will combine ULTRASAT’s observations of these short-term events with information from a variety of other missions, including those studying gravitational waves and particles – a field known as time domain and multimessenger astronomy. The results will shed light on the workings of everything from black holes and gravitational wave sources to supernovae and active galaxies.

“This is a breakthrough project that places Israel at the forefront of global research,” said Eli Waxman, an astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and ULTRASAT’s head researcher. “Leading international bodies such as NASA and the DESY research institute have joined this Israeli-led project as partners, having recognized its scientific significance. They are investing considerable resources in the construction and launch of the satellite to become active participants in this mission with access to its scientific products. It’s a science-driven partnership.”

Uri Oron, Director of the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology said, “Groundbreaking science calls for cutting-edge technology. Our requirements from ULTRASAT, such as a wide field of view, advanced ultraviolet sensitivity and real-time data control and transfer are at the forefront of technological developments. Israel’s space industry can deliver these capabilities.”

“The Israel Space Agency is proud of the cooperation with NASA,” added Oron, “as a direct example of the strong partnership between the agencies, and of the Israeli space industry’s technological effort involved in the development of the telescope.”

The Israel Space Agency, founded following a government decision in 1983, is a national agency operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The Agency is responsible for initiating, leading and coordinating all activities of the civilian space program.

The Agency especially supports scientific research and development with real, economic potential such as the development of unique and innovative technologies. In addition, the Agency operates on the premise that all space-related activities contribute to the Israeli economy, and to the country’s international standing and also benefit its citizens in terms of agriculture, communications, monitoring of environmental pollution and research.

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