Israel to launch first autonomous nanosatellites to be flown in formation in 2018

Project by Israel’s Technion, Ministry of Space & Technology & Israel Space Agency to launch in late 2018; Nanosatellites “will contribute to a vast array of civilian applications and to the advancement of Israel’s space industry”. Jan. 2, 2018.



Israel is set to launch the world’s first autonomous nanosatellites to be flown in controlled formation towards the end of 2018.

The satellites were developed at the Asher Institute for Space Research at the Technion University in Haifa in coordination with Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry and the Israel Space Agency. The project was funded by the Adelis-Samson Foundation and is led by Prof. Pini Gurfil of the Technion.

The satellites’ components were all developed in Israel by companies such as Rafael and Elta and will be powered by both solar panels and its propulsion systems.

Each of the three satellites to be launched is reportedly 10 cm. x 20 cm. x 30 cm. and weigh 8 kilograms. The satellites are to be launched into space by the Indian launcher PSLV, a goal of the mission to “demonstrate long-term autonomous cluster flight of multiple satellites” through the use of algorithms and software, as well as formation flying of nanosatellites.

According to a press release from the Asher Institute, “The three satellites will be launched together with approximately the same semimajor axis, eccentricity and inclination and separated in orbit to for a cluster with relative distance,” and “will perform autonomous relative orbital element corrections using a cold-gas propulsion system to satisfy the relative distance constraints.”

Prof. Gurfil addressed the of vast opportunities for Israel and science if formation flying of nanosatellites was possible, stating, “this will enhance the development of small satellites and miniaturization technologies, efficient processing in space and propulsion systems in space. The airborne technologies on the nanosatellites will contribute to a vast array of civilian applications and to the advancement of Israel’s space industry”.

Israel successfully launched a nanosatellite into space in February of last year. The project was carried out Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev in cooperation with Israel’ Space Agency. Data from the satellites is being used for research purposes at the university.

In August of 2017, Israel made history when it sent the world’s smallest environmental research satellite, Venis, into space. Venus stands for “Vegetation and Environment Monitoring on a New Micro Satellite” and the satellite collects data to help scientists study earth’s agriculture and ecology, as well as issues such as desertification, pollution and natural disasters.

The satellite can operate at 12 different wavelengths and rotates the earth 29 times in 48 hours. It takes photos and collects data from the same locations over the next few years, collecting data on temperatures, soil and water to allow scientists to study changes in the environment. The nanosatellites in 2018 will also collect data for research and calculations in environmental monitoring and detection.

Nanosatellites are revolutionizing space technologies, as they are cheaper to develop and launch. Israel is currently at the forefront of nanosatellite research and production.


Photo: Nanosatellites Wikimedia Commons, 2017.

Seal impression from First Temple Period discovered near Western Wall

Israeli archeologists recently discovered a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression from a former Biblical governor of Jerusalem, believed to be either Joshua or Maaseiah. Jan. 1, 2018.



The Israel Antiquities Authority made the discovery of an ancient clay seal impression during an excavation at the Western Wall Plaza. The artifact depicts two men in striped garments and reads “belonging to the governor of the city”.

According to one of the excavators from the site, Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, “The upper part of the seal depicts two figures facing each other, and the lower part holds an inscription in ancient Hebrew script,” and is significant as the discovery “supports the assumption that this area, located on the western slopes of the western hill of ancient Jerusalem… west of the Temple Mount, was inhabited by highly ranked officials during the First Temple period.”

She explained that the seal was “attached to an important transport and serves as some sort of logo or tiny souvenir that was sent on behalf of the governor of the city”.

It was found 100 meters from the Kotel (Western Wall).

The artifact is believed to refer to either Joshua or Masseiah, the only two governors of Jerusalem mentioned in the Bible, found in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

“Josiah brought to Jerusalem all the priests who were living in other towns of Judah. He also defiled the pagan shrines, where they had offered sacrifices–all the way from Geba to Beersheba. He destroyed the shrines at the entrance to the gate of Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem. This gate was located to the left of the city gate as one enters the city.” (2 Kings 23:8)

“In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, the royal historian, to repair the Temple of the Lord his God.” (2 Chronicles 34:8)

The seal was presented to Jerusalem’s Mayor, Nir Barkat, this week, the mayor stating on the finding, “This shows that already 2,700 years ago, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was a strong and central city.”




Photo: Impression found by IAA, Israel Antiquities Authority, 2017.

Mercedes-Benz opens tech hub in Tel Aviv

Second deal made with Israel in auto industry following Mobileye acquisition from Intel Corp; Mercedes: Israel is among the top five ecosystems for innovation, digital technologies, new mobility services and car IT, Nov. 19, 2017.



Daimler AG opened a Mercedes-Benz tech hub in Tel Aviv on Thursday, the second massive deal in the auto technology industry for the State of Israel in 2017.

The research and development center will focus on digital and mobility services, including biometrics, security and navigation.

Head of Mercedes-Benz cars, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, stated on the Israel’s capabilities “Israel is among the top five ecosystems for innovation, digital technologies, new mobility services and car IT. And it is one of the top four largest talent pools in the world. With our new Technology Center in Tel Aviv, we want to strengthen our global R&D network and tap into this vibrant mix of creativity, optimism and digital competencies to develop innovative mobility solutions for our customers.”

In March of this year, Intel Corp announced it buying Israel’s Mobileye, the autonomous vehicle technology company, in the largest acquisition of an Israeli high-tech company to date. Worth over $15 billion, the deal was one of the most significant acquisitions of Israeli technology by foreign investors. Intel also announced it will be moving its automotive driving division to Israel sometime later this year to be managed by Mobileye’s CTO and co-founder, Amnon Shashua.

Mobileye and Intel have been working together since 2016 and Intel currently employs over 10,000 in its Israel branches. Mobileye has been a world leading innovators of automotive technologies, including sensor fusion, advanced automobile camera tech, the Mobileye mono-camera, and mapping technologies. The company has been universally leading in driving safety with its Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keeping Intelligence.

It is best known for its Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) and Full Autonomous Vehicles, the company working with Intel in collaboration with BMW since 2016 to produce and test the world’s first fully self-driving vehicles later this year. Mobileye is expected to deliver fully autonomous vehicles by 2021.



Photo: Mercedes, CC, 2017.

Archeologist discover ancient Roman theatre next to Western Wall

Roman theatre discovered adjacent to Western Wall in Jerusalem, dates back 1,700 years; Theatre may have been used for acoustic performance or bouleuterion; Site to open in 6 months to public, Oct. 17, 2017.



Israeli archeologists made yet another fascinating discovery in Old City Jerusalem- a Roman theatre built next to the Western Wall.

Archeologists from the Israel Antiquity Authority confirmed the discovery of the first Roman public structure ever discovered in Jerusalem on Monday, an ongoing archeological dig still underway.

The head of the excavation team, Joe Uziel, explained that the structure dates back around 1,700 years and was built by the Romans beneath the Wilson’s Arch, which is adjacent to the men’s prayer section of the Western Wall.

Uziel explained how for months the team was sure they would find a Roman road, only to find a Roman theatre and the first Roman public structure made in Jerusalem discovered to date.

He explained, “From a research perspective, this is a sensational find. The discovery was a real surprise. We did not imagine that a window would open for us onto the mystery of Jerusalem’s lost theater. Like much of archeological research, the expectation is that a certain thing will be found. But at the end of the process, other findings, surprising and thought-provoking, are unearthed.”

The team explained that the structure, “which is “relatively small structure compared to known Roman theaters, such as at Caesarea, Beit She’an and Beit Guvrin,”and is likely a “odeon”, used for “acoustic performance”. Another theory is that “the structure might have been what is known as a “bouleuterion”, the building where the city council met, in this case, the council of the Roman colony of Aelia Capitolina.”

The team will continue its excavation for another 6 months before opening the site to the public.

The discovery is one of a few made in the past few months. In August, archeologists in northern Israel reported to possibly have found the Roman city of Julias, the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip. The discovery was made at Beit Habek in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve on the shores of the Sea of Galilee by a group of archeologists from the Institute of Galilean Archeology. Julias was built on Bethsaida by the King Herod Phillipus, son of King Herod the Great. The city was named after Julias Augusta, the mother of Emperor Tiberius.

Just a few days later, a 2,000 year-old chalkstone quarry and vessel workshop in the lower Galilee dating to the Roman Period was found. The Israel Antiquities Authority confirmed the discovery, the fourth workshop of this kind in Israel to be discovered. Archeologists have been digging and researching the area in Reina after finding a similar workshop in the region. Two of the previously discovered quarries near Jerusalem.



Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Archeologists may have found lost city of Julias, home of Andrew, Peter and Philip

Bathhouses and mosaic evidence of Roman city Julias found on the shores of the Galilee; Mosaic found evidence of church


Photo: Zachary Wong


Archeologists in northern Israel believe they have found the Roman city of Julias, the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip.

The discovery was made at Beit Habek in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve on the shores of the Sea of Galilee by a group of archeologists from the Institute of Galilean Archeology.

Julias was built on Bethsaida by the King Herod Phillipus, son of King Herod the Great. The city was named after Julias Augusta, the mother of Emperor Tiberius.

Head of the excavation, Dr, Mordechai Aviam announced the discovery on Sunday, describing the dig and evidence that led them to believe they may have found the lost Roman city.

He described the dig stating, “The layer from the Roman period was found at a depth of two meters below a layer from the Byzantine period… Our main surprise was that at the bottom of the excavation, in a small area, a wall of a building was discovered, and next to it was a mosaic floor and artifacts that characterize a bathhouse,” leading the team to believe that “beneath the surface are the remains of the lost city of Julias”.

Archeologists also found a silver coin from the period of Emperor Nero during the excavation.

The mosaic found also could be evidence of a church having been built at the home of the apostles Andrew, Philip and Peter, Aviam stating “The discovery of dozens of golden glass mosaics in the previous season and the present season attests to the fact that the church was an important and magnificent place.” He added “This is a discovery that will arouse great interest among early Christian scholars, historians of the New Testament, and scholars of the Land of Israel in general, and the Jewish Galilee during the Second Temple period in particular.”

Archeologists uncover new evidence of Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem

Findings include ivory statue, jars and storage, as well as walls covered in charcoal; Findings confirm Israel’s constant growth during Iron Age, as well as wealth of the city



Israeli archeologists have unearthed findings dating back to Babylonian conquest and destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem.

Archeologists uncovered several artifacts from charcoal covered rooms in the City of David dating prior to the siege of Jerusalem at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar over 2,600 years ago.

Archeologists found several jars for storage, as well as charred wood, fish bones, human bones and seeds. Amongst the artifacts found were an Egyptian ivory statue, pottery jars and rosette seal dating to a decade prior to the capture of the Temple by the Babylonians.

Dr. Joe Uziel, the head of the excavation carried out by the Israel’s Antiquities Authority, described the significance of their findings, explaining, “Classifying objects facilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields. The rosette, in essence, replaced the ‘For the King’ seal used in the earlier administrative system.”

On the seal, he explained, “seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple Period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty.”

He spoke of the wealth of the Judean Kingdom, particularly in Jerusalem, describing the “wealth of the Judean Kingdom’s capital is also manifest in the ornamental artifacts surfacing in situ. One distinct and rare finding is a small ivory statue of a woman. The figure is naked, and her haircut, or wig, is Egyptian in style. The quality of its carving is high, and it attests to the high caliber of the artifact’s artistic level, and the skill par excellence of the artists during this era.”

The findings also point to additional evidence of Jerusalem’s constant growth throughout the Iron Age, Uziel describing how the “row of structures exposed in the excavations is located outside, beyond the city wall that would have constituted the eastern border of the city during this period. In the current excavation, we may suggest that following the westward expansion of the city, structures were built outside of the wall’s border on the east as well.”

The finding comes just a fews days before Jews worldwide commemorate Tisha, the ninth day of the Hebrew month “Av”, a day of mourning in remembrance of the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.

Advanced imaging reveals First Temple era inscription unnoticed for half a century

Researchers from Tel Aviv Uni. discover text on ostracan found 50 years ago, dating to destruction of Kingdom of Judah through use of multispectral imaging



Using advanced imagery technologies, researchers from Israel’s Tel Aviv University discovered an inscription on a shard of pottery dating from the First Temple era.

Using an interdisciplinary approach and Multispectral imaging, researchers from Tel Aviv University’s and Mathematics and Archeology departments were able to decipher the ”hidden” text.

The antiquity dates back to around 600 CE. from Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the Kingdom of Judah.

Researchers were able to use this advanced image technology to uncover the 17 words and 50 characters on the back of the ostracan. The front of the ostracan reportedly includes a prayer to God, followed by text in the back.

The text is of correspondence between masters and military, with the name “Elyashiv” who is believed to have been the main author. One of the professors from the project described “Most of the ostraca unearthed at Arad are dated to a short time span during the last stage of the fortress’s history on the eve of the kingdom’s destruction in 586 BCE by Nebuchadnezzar… Many of these inscriptions are addressed to Elyashiv, the quartermaster of the fortress. They deal with the logistics of the outpost, such as the supply of flour, wine and oil to subordinate units.”

The shattered pottery was found 50 years ago in Arad. It was discovered in 1965, all the pieces in one place. It was recovered and has been in the Israel Museum for most of the past 50 years. There were reportedly 91 pieces found.