ונוס: רחוק מהעין, קרוב ללב
המוצר: לוויין לחקר הסביבה
המפתחים: התעשייה האווירית בשיתוף אלביט ורפאל
תחילת הפיתוח: 2005
Product: Environmental Research Satellite
Developers: Israel Aerospace Industries together with Elbit, Rafael
Start of Development: 2005
Venus, the first Israeli satellite for monitoring agriculture and studying the environment was launched into space on August 2, 2017. Venus is the flagship product of a joint venture of the Ministry of Science and Technology's Israeli Space Agency and the French Space Agency (CNES). This is the first Israeli civilian satellite.
The satellite was constructed at Israel Aerospace Industries in conjunction with Elbit that developed its telescope, and with Rafael which developed the propulsion system. The satellite entered a 720-kilometer high sun-synchronous orbit and is presently in a test and calibration stage before becoming operational.
Environmental research satellites have assumed increasing importance, especially in light of the earth's environmental problems. Venus tracks 110 different locations and monitors various aspects including land surface, vegetation, forestation, agriculture, water quality etc.
The satellite is equipped with a special camera capable of detecting details on earth in 12 wavelengths, including those that are invisible to the naked eye. It photographs a set of interest points in Israel and around the world and provides researchers with dozens of pictures every day, each of which covers an area of approximately 760 square kilometers. On its pass over Israel, it records three lengthwise strips of pictures – of the Galilee, the Coastal Plain and the Negev – including most of the country's national parks, nature reserves, forests and ecological stations.
The pictures will be subsequently made available to scholars at universities, state bodies and research institutes. Venus orbits the earth 29 times in a 48-hour period, supplying pictures from the same angle once every two days. The pictures enable identification of frequent changes in vegetation, surface conditions, coastlines, internal water bodies and in the atmosphere. The satellite's unique attributes accord it an advantage over other environmental satellites currently operating in space.
Venus also has an original technological mission: to ascertain the feasibility of a plasma-based electric propulsion system developed by Rafael. Use of this system is expected to save satellites' fuel and weight.