Israel to launch first space telescope in 2026 to observe stellar explosions

Inspenet, February 24, 2023

The United States Aerospace Agency, NASA, will launch Israel’s first space telescope into orbit in 2026, whose mission will be to scan the universe for events such as colliding or exploding stars, the Weizmann Institute of Sciences said in a statement.

“The ULTRASAT telescope is expected to revolutionize scientists’ ability to detect and analyze transient events in the universe, such as neutron star mergers and supernova explosions,” the official statement explains.

Its particularly wide field of view “represents a 100-fold jump in the extragalactic volume accessible to scientists for transient source discovery, compared to observatories on Earth.”

The ultraviolet transient astronomy satellite, or ULTRASAT, which is the technical name for the entire tool that will depart for space, will be transported aboard a NASA launch rocket. The mission is the flagship project of the Israel Space Agency (ISA), the Weizmann Institute of Science, and part of a newly created partnership between the US space organization and the Israel Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology. Israel, run by the ISA.

The statement also clarifies that transient events in space are those that take place on a relatively short time scale of a few years, rather than billions of years.

According to the Weitzmann Institute, this new tool will improve the investigation of astronomical objects such as supernovae, variable and flare stars, active galaxies, the source of gravitational waves and the accumulation of stars by massive back holes.

ULTRASAT will cost around $90 million in total to build.

The satellite will be built by the space division of Israel Aerospace Industries, which will also oversee the mission after launch, and the telescope itself is being built by Elbit Systems Electro-Optics.

Professor Eli Waxman, an astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and principal investigator for ULTRASAT, called it an “innovative project that places Israel at the forefront of global research.”

The telescope will also supply insights that cannot be acquired from the Earth’s surface, such as taking ultraviolet light measurements, as well as providing real-time alerts on transient events in space.

Scientists hope to use the capabilities of ULTRASAT to learn more about the origin of heavy elements and the impact of giant black holes on their environment.

Source :

Image : CC BY-SA 4.0 / Railfan31 / A model of the planned ULTRASAT satellite

Don’t miss the Inspenet News at: