Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Space Shuttle hosting water purification test

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

TEL AVIV — Israel and the United States have launched an experiment in space.

Israel's Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies has begun a bio-medical experiment on the Space Shuttle of the U.S. National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA). Fisher, used as a research arm of the Israel Air Force, was conducting the experiment with Israel's Strauss Water on the Space Shuttle Atlantis. "Their mission will be to test a new water purification technology under zero gravity in space," Fisher said.

The experiment began on July 8 and included an Israeli research team headed by Eran Schenker. Organizers said the Space Shuttle was hosting water purification technology based on polymers that would remove bacteria and viruses.

"The data accumulated from the research in space will also have implications for purifying water on earth, as it has direct bearing on the field of drinking water purification in its broader context," Fisher said. "This experiment may be of important for the space industry as well, which is looking to improve the quality of water provided to astronauts on long missions."

The experiment was enabled by a contract between the Israelis and NanoRacks under the latter's space agreement with NASA. Israel has been said to expect a breakthrough in water purification technology.

"Purifying water from bacteria and viruses is a critical process in water-scarce regions around the world, and it is therefore important to expand our knowledge in this field," Schenker said.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Swarm theory & Israel's Satellites of Tomorrow

 "It is much easier to change a payload module than launch a new satellite."
€1.5 million from the EU for innovative research at the Technion dealing with disaggregated satellites.The free-flying satellite modules will form a fractionated satellite in space

The European Research Council (ERC) will provide €1.5 million for research by Prof. Pini Gurfil of ASRI at the Technion, who proposes launching satellites in parts - that together communicate wirelessly and operate as a complete satellite. The ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grant is considered Europe’s most prestigious research award. Its aim is to encourage pioneering frontier research in any field of science, engineering and scholarship.

“In unexpected situations, such as damage from space debris, a satellite might not react well and could discontinue its original task; functional and financial damages are thus unavoidable,” explains Prof. Gurfil. “For example, if the payload is damaged, the entire system becomes unusable, and in order to complete the task, the entire instrument must be replaced. This procedure is very expensive and time-consuming. It is much easier to change a payload module than launch a new satellite.”

This idea led to a new concept in space engineering termed disaggregated spacecraft. In disaggregated space architectures (DSA), several separate modules communicate with each other via wireless communication links, thus forming a single virtual platform. Each module has its own designated function or functions: navigation, attitude control, power generation and payload operation. The independent modules are able to distribute resources among themselves and do not have to be very close to each other to operate. They only have to be in relative proximity, such that they form a cluster.

DSA constitutes a new type of space engineering, which is expected to be more efficient in terms of responsiveness; responsiveness is the ability to adapt to unexpected scenarios resulting from several sources of uncertainty at different levels of task design and execution. 

The final goal of the proposed research is to develop innovative technology that will enable actual flight in a DSA formation; specific objectives include: 

(a) development of algorithms for long-term semi-autonomous maintenance of the cluster and the cluster network, while allowing for the addition of new modules or removal of such modules; 
(b) finding methods for reconfiguration that guarantee cluster safety and mission-critical functionality; 
(c) design of distribution/gathering of the cluster, with the purpose of avoiding collision with space debris; 
(d) development of logic and ways to share resources within the flock network, with the ability to react in real-time; and 
(e) verification of these algorithms and methods in the Distributed Space Systems Laboratory, a research laboratory developed by Prof. Gurfil. 

The proposed research will create the necessary infrastructure for a space demonstration circa 2016.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Across the Universe - Rocket Engine Innovation

It takes energy to keep a satellite positioned in space, or to move a spacecraft to it's destination. It also takes ASRI brainpower from Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.

Testing the Camila at ASRI's Rocket Propulsion Lab.

When the iron curtain came down, a scientific opportunity emerged. World-class scientists were among the millions of Russians that were free to find America. Empowered by cultural diversity and open to newcomers, Technion's Asher Space Research Institute (ASRI) seized the moment and recruited Prof. Alexander Kapulkin. Today, he is the mastermind of the world's most efficient, fast and effective rocket engine, the CAMILA.

Downstairs at ASRI, the future of earth and space science is being born. In the new Rocket Propulsion Lab, suspended within a huge stainless steel vacuum cylinder, the hand-sized electric-propulsion hall thruster CAMILLA is undergoing tests. The lab took form through the combined skills of three immigrants from the former USSR. Kapulkin, his student from the University of Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine Maxim Rubinovitch, and mechanical designer Dr. Vladimir Balabanov, who came to Israel 20 years ago from Omsk.

CAMILA includes a revolutionary fuel-delivery design and an innovative magnetic field configuration that propels the engine faster. This innovation consumes less fuel, thus increasing engine efficiency. The impact will be less size, weight, and cost of small satellites. The new lab is set to be the only plasma process monitoring facility in Israel. CAMILA? The three scientists hope to experience her Sputnik moment within the next two years, when she will take her maiden voyage to propel her first microsatellite through space.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Russia, Israel, Technion and Space Research

Israel, Russia sign space cooperation agreement

The agreement covers observation, navigation, medicine and biology in space, advanced materials and launchings.

27 March 11 19:08, Globes' correspondent
The Israel Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency today signed a framework agreement in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem.
The agreement, which was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, enhances cooperation between the Israeli and Russian space agencies in the fields of space research, observation, navigation, medicine and biology in space, and research in advanced materials and launchings.
Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkovitz and Russian Ambassador to Israel Pyotr Stegny, the directors of the respective space agencies, and space experts from both countries also attended the signing.
Netanyahu said that the combination of Russia's developed industry and Israel's developed, focused and sophisticated industry would provide major benefits to both countries, and added that today's agreement reflects the impressive development in bilateral relations.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on March 27, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Post-doctoral Scholarship in Space Research

The Asher Space Research Institute (ASRI) at Technion invites candidates to apply for the Ilan Ramon Scholarship: 

~Research in Earth observations from space to the development of methods and devices of electronic and electro-optic micro with potential application in space~

Scholarship conditions, required documents and forms can be found at Israel's Ministry of Science.

Please note that candidates can not be graduates of the Technion.

Deadline for applications: 15/5/11.

For further questions please contact Ayelet Raz - Catalan, coordinator of academic guests: Phone: 972 4 829 2560

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japan Earthquake ~ Earth shifts on axis... what does that mean?

Prof. Ehud Behar, Head of ASRI Space Research, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, explains the science behind the earth's shift on its axis that resulted from the catastrophic earthquake in Japan in March 2011.

Q: Since the earthquake in Japan, we are told the earth shifted on its axis? What does that mean?

A: When the ground moves and reassembles itself closer to Earth's rotation axis, Earth spins a little bit faster.
This is just like an ice skater pulling its arms in to accelerate its spin and is based on what in physics we call the conservation of angular momentum: a reduced radius of motion causes a faster angular speed.

As opposed to the skater, the effect here is minuscule as the amount of ground shifting compared to Earth's total mass is very small. The change in the duration of the day amounts to a few millionths of a second out of 24 hours - didn't you feel you have less time for everything?
As far as I can tell, the rotation axis-shift is a misconception. The same law of physics - conservation of angular momentum - does not allow the change of the rotation axis without external intervention, such as an impact of a meteor, or a passing by of a heavy planet. What happens with internal motions, as in an earthquake, is that the distribution of matter on Earth changes, so its axis of symmetry (around which mass is symmetrically distributed) might change, but not it rotational axis. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Vision for Space

Chicago native Joel S. Rothman, National President of the American Technion Society 
(ATS), dedicated the Jeri and Joel S. Rothman Family Seminar Room with his wife, Jeri, 
and two sons, Michael and Ben, at the June 2010 Board of Governors meeting. Prof.
Ehud Behar, director of the Asher Space Research Institute (ASRI), noted that Chicago
is the biggest contributor to ASRI.

Joel said that his journey with the ATS to Technion began some 25 years ago. “This 
week is an exceptional milestone… I share my gratitude and affection, with those who 
befriended Jeri and I … the ‘Chicago Mafia’ all made us welcome and feel at home.” 
Jeri said, “Technion has become our family in Israel.”

(l-r) Prof. Ehud Behar, Michael, Joel, Jeri

and Ben Rothman, and Prof. Peretz Lavie at
Technion’s Asher Space Research Institute