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VENµS Environmental Research Satellite Launched

VENµS Environmental Research Satellite Launched

August 2, 2017

Desert & Water Research, Press Releases

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is playing a key role in the research component of VENµS, Israel’s first environmental research satellite launched today at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. Venμs is a joint project of the Israel Space Agency (ISA) in the Science Ministry and its French counterpart, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES).

Watch the video of the VENµS launch:

Venμs (Vegetation and Environment Monitoring on a New Micro Satellite) will support the study of vegetation evolution, agriculture and the environment. It will capture dozens of images daily, including those that cannot be seen by the human eye, using a sophisticated multi-spectral camera. The camera will capture images in 12 wavelengths including the four “red-edge” wavelengths — a relatively narrow spectral area that will enable scientists to better quantify the state and dynamics of vegetation at the chosen research sites.

Images specific to Israel will be received, analyzed and archived at the BGU Remote Sensing Laboratory on the Sde Boker campus, an operation site of the Science and Technology Ministry. Prof. Arnon Karnieli, lead researcher on the satellite project, heads the laboratory at BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.

Prof. Arnon Karnieli

“The satellite is uniquely suited for monitoring agricultural crops in accordance with the concept of ‘precision agriculture’, offering high-spatial resolution of 16 feet (five meters) and a 48-hour revisit time,” says Prof. Karnieli.

“This concept allows a farmer to see the spatial and temporal changes of his crops not just on the scale of the entire field, but on an intra-field scale of small plots. It will help conserve resources and protect the land and groundwater from surpluses of water, fertilizers and pesticides.”

Venμs is BGU’s second satellite project successfully launched this year. “BGUSAT,” the first nanosatellite for Israeli academic research, was launched in February as part of a collaboration between BGU, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Israel Ministry of Science, Technology and Space. It is currently providing researchers with information on a range of scientific phenomena.

Images specific to Israel will be received, analyzed and archived at BGU’s Remote Sensing Laboratory at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Sde Boker Campus–an operation site of the Israel Science and Technology Ministry. This video, narrated in English, describes the project:

“Israel is renowned the world over for its courage and innovation, elements which are expressed in the technological development of VENµS,” says Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis. “We are filled with pride to see this long-awaited project of the best engineers and researchers in Israel led by the Israel Space Agency and the French space agency reach fruition.”

From a technological perspective, the  blue and white  satellite, built by IAI, also features a new electrical propulsion system designed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., which is intended to reduce the satellite’s weight. Elbit Systems Ltd. designed the special camera.

The micro satellite weighs 586 pounds (265 kilograms) and will enter a geo-synchronous orbit at a height of 447 miles (720 kilometers) within two days of the launch. It will orbit the Earth 29 times each 48-hour cycle and is expected to remain in orbit for 4.5 years, after which it will move to a lower orbit, 255 miles (410 kilometers) from Earth.

“This satellite represents an unprecedented integration of capabilities and will enable a broad range of research tasks in the planetary sciences,” says Prof. Karnieli.


By supporting a world-class academic institution that not only nurtures the Negev, but also shares its expertise locally and globally, Americans for Ben-Gurion University engages a community of Americans who are committed to improving the world. David Ben-Gurion envisioned that Israel’s future would be forged in the Negev. The cutting-edge research carried out at Ben-Gurion University drives that vision by sustaining a desert Silicon Valley, with the “Stanford of the Negev” at its center. The Americans for Ben-Gurion University movement supports a 21st century unifying vision for Israel by rallying around BGU’s remarkable work and role as an apolitical beacon of light in the Negev desert.

About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev embraces the endless potential we have as individuals and as a commonality to adapt and to thrive in changing environments. Inspired by our location in the desert, we aim to discover, to create, and to develop solutions to dynamic challenges, to pose questions that have yet to be asked, and to push beyond the boundaries of the commonly accepted and possible.

We are proud to be a central force for inclusion, diversity and innovation in Israel, and we strive to extend the Negev’s potential and our entrepreneurial spirit throughout the world. For example, the multi-disciplinary School for Sustainability and Climate Change at BGU leverages over 50 years of expertise on living and thriving in the desert into scalable solutions for people everywhere.

BGU at a glance:  

20,000 students | 800 senior faculty | 3 campuses | 6 faculties: humanities & social sciences, health sciences, engineering sciences, natural sciences, business & management, and desert research.


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