CT for Clouds: A Fleet of Micro-Satellites Will See into the Smallest Clouds

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An Israeli-German mission to launch a formation of ten tiny satellites that use medically-inspired CT (computed tomography) algorithms to answer climate questions wins a (US) $15.9 million European Research Council award.

Ten satellites, each around the size of a shoebox, are slated to enter orbit in a few years and begin filling in some gaping holes in our understanding of clouds and their role in climate. Inspired by medical CT (computed tomography), which observes and maps the interior of a patient, the designers are creating a system that will reveal detailed images of clouds’ external and internal 3D structures and properties. By probing small cloud fields that are generally missed by today’s remote sensing technologies, the mission may resolve some major uncertainties that limit current atmospheric modeling and climate prediction.

(L-R) Prof. Ilan Koren, Prof. Yoav Schechner, and Prof. Klaus Schilling

This space mission, called CloudCT, was recently awarded €14 million by the European Research Council (ERC) Synergy program — the maximum sum that can be allotted from this program. Three investigators lead this unique interdisciplinary project: two Israelis and a German. Prof. Yoav Schechner of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Technion (Haifa) is an expert in computer vision and computed tomography. Prof. Ilan Koren is an expert in cloud and rain physics in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department of the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot). Prof. Klaus Schilling of the Center for Telematics (Würzburg) is a leader in the field of small satellite formation technology.

Clouds have a key role in Earth’s energy balance and its water cycle; even small errors in assessing clouds’ properties can lead to major inaccuracies in climate predictions. “Satellites study large cloud structures, but lack the resolution to observe small clouds,” says Koren. “Although they are small, such clouds temper the climate, on the one hand, and on the other, they may be very sensitive to climate change. That is why there is a critical need to measure these small clouds properly — to understand their nature and their interplay with changing environmental conditions. CloudCT can pave the way to this understanding.”

The idea for probing these clouds from space was motivated by the technology of 3D medical imaging. “We are using human health as guidance for the planet’s health,” Schechner says. In analogy to the better-known medical CT, images in CloudCT will be taken simultaneously from many directions around and above the clouds. This feat will be made possible by the networked self-organizing formation of multiple, affordable, very small and very agile satellites. However, “Contrary to isolated clinic laboratory settings, Earth is irradiated by illumination from the Sun, which cannot be moved around or turned on and off. Our image-analysis algorithms must account for this reality and rely on light scattering, which challenges our task.”

The precision control required of the multi-satellite system (each satellite weighing around three kilograms) so as to conduct this complex imaging raises challenges in miniaturization, as well as in coordination and autonomous reaction capabilities. Schilling professes excitement about the prospects of the CloudCT project: “The distributed networked satellite systems we are developing for CloudCT are an example of the ways that innovative software compensates for the deficits brought about by miniaturization. This enables a self-organizing system to be implemented efficiently by such ultra-small satellites and for novel approaches to observation to help achieve scientific advances.”

The scientists are now building their teams and starting to work out details of the project. They will spend time designing and testing many aspects of CloudCT prior to launch. “This testing is assisted by a precursor mission of three satellites, called TOM – Telematics Earth Observation Mission, as well as our high-performance dynamics simulator in Würzburg,” says Schilling. “This project will give us the opportunity to see and measure clouds as never before,” adds Koren.  “We are very pleased that the ERC selected the CloudCT project,” says Schechner. “We can already say that CloudCT is pioneering new concepts of Earth observation and the development of sophisticated computational imaging algorithms.”

Watch this video explaining this research

Technion Ties With MIT in 8th Place for Producing Nobel Prizewinners

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December 10th marks the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death and also gives us the new round of the Nobel Prize winners. https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel-prize-award-ceremonies/

With 4 Technion alumni and faculty taking home Nobel Prizes in the past 15 years, Technion places 8th, in a tie with MIT, for producing the most winners this century! http://int.technion.ac.il/technion-ties-with-mit-in-eighth-place-for-producing-nobel-prizewinners-in-this-century/

Avram Hershko & Aaron Ciechanover, 2004, Chemistry

Technion’s winners have all won for major advancements in Chemistry, starting in 2004 with Technion professor Avram Hershko and Technion graduate/professor Aaron Ciechanover. The pair, along with their American partner, discovered “ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation”.

What is ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation? It’s a bit of a mouthful, but this video will break it down for you. 

They proudly hold a special place in Technion’s history as the first Technion affiliates to win the Nobel Prize.

Dan Shechtman, 2011, Chemistry

7 years later, in 2011, Dan Shechtman brought Technion into the Nobel Prize light again, for the discovery of quasicrystals. A great success story, given his research was rejected and disapproved by his peers for years.  Today Dan Shechtman is currently a Philip Tobias professor of Material Science at Technion! https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nobel-chemistry/corrected-ridiculed-crystal-work-wins-nobel-for-israeli-idUSTRE7941EP20111006

Wondering what quasicrystals are? Look no further! https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/quasicrystals-win-chemistry-nobel

Arieh Warshel, 2013, Chemistry

The third Nobel Prize for Technion came in 2013 when Technion graduate, Arieh Warshel and his two colleagues were recognized for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems. This trio’s discovery made this all possible. https://scientificgems.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/the-chemistry-nobel-gives-hope-to-all-simulation-scientists/

The excitement of Nobel Prize awards is a legitimate one. The great effort and lengths scientists have gone through to prove their hypotheses and stand by their results has earned them an award well deserved!  In acknowledgement of their grandeur in the field of chemistry, Technion invites students from other countries to learn from these masters with their study abroad program: http://int.technion.ac.il/studying-abroad-in-israel-with-nobel-prize-winners/

While we await to hear what new discoveries will be announced as winners this year, we leave you with an article on peace and entrepreneurship. A concept Dan Shechtman talks about in an article by Forbes contributor, Ricardo Geromel: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ricardogeromel/2012/04/27/israeli-nobel-prize-winner-entrepreneurship-is-the-only-way-to-maintain-peace/#30c935235328

Israeli Device Lets Wheelchair-Bound Groom Stand Under the Chuppah

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Wheel chair bound Adir wanted to be able to stand under the chuppah with his bride to be Liat. UpnRide made that dream come true.

UPnRIDE was invented by Amit Goffer, whose revolutionary ReWalk robotic exoskeleton allows paraplegics to stand, walk, navigate steps and even run marathons.

Goffer, who is a Technion graduate, could not use ReWalk himself because he is a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down.

Read more.

Technion Launches t-hub, a New Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Technion won a NIS 10 million (US $2.7 million) grant from Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) in the “New Campus Vision” competition to set up entrepreneurship hub.

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology won a NIS 10 million grant for the advancement of entrepreneurship and innovation as part of a “New Campus Vision” competition of the Council for Higher Education. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Chair of the CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats announced the winners.

The grant will be used to establish t-hub – The Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, based on the strategic plan for entrepreneurship and innovation formulated by the university during the past two years. Technion is the only academic institution to win the competition individually.

“The grant from the Council for Higher Education comes at a perfect time,” said President of the Technion Prof. Peretz Lavie. “Two years ago we initiated a comprehensive initiative aimed at developing and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation activities on the Haifa campus connecting them to the new branches of Technion in New York and China.  The grant will enable the Technion to make a significant change in the scope of its entrepreneurial activities and to realize the establishment of the Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, t-hub, which will take the entrepreneurial culture on campus to new heights.”

Read more.

Cronos Group Partners with Technion in a Research Agreement

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Cronos Group Inc. recently announced that it has entered into a sponsored research agreement with the Technion Research and Development Foundation of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Research will be led by Technion faculty members Dr. David “Dedi” Meiri, Head, Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research and Dr. Yaron Fuchs, Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine two of the world’s leading researchers in cannabis and skin stem cell research, respectively.

The preclinical studies will be conducted by Technion over a three-year period to explore the use of cannabinoids and their role in regulating skin health and skin disorders. The three skin conditions they will focus on are acne, psoriasis and skin repair. Development and implementation of the research will be conducted at Technion’s Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabis Research and the Lorry I. Lokey Interdisciplinary Center of Life Sciences and Engineering in Haifa, Israel.

“We believe that the potential applications of cannabinoids to regulate skin health and treat skin disorders are vast, and we are excited to begin exploring these applications through our partnership with Technion,” said Mike Gorenstein, Chief Executive Officer of Cronos Group. Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) is a globally diversified and vertically integrated cannabis company with a presence across five continents.

“Using rigorous data to develop efficacious topical and transdermal formulations will be key to creating differentiated products that provide quality treatments to our consumers and strengthen our brand portfolio.”

Technion Joins EuroTech Universities Alliance

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Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, will join the EuroTech Universities Alliance as of 1 January 2019. Made public on the occasion of the Alliance’s annual High-Level Event in Brussels on November 6th, the announcement follows the accession of France’s École Polytechnique to the Alliance in June 2018. This step increases the Alliance’s membership base, and will further strengthen its position as a pioneer for inter-university collaboration.

“The EuroTech Universities are excellent research-based universities recognized within their innovation eco-systems as highly dynamic motors with an outstanding capacity to help translate basic research into societal solutions”, says Jan Mengelers, President of the EuroTech Universities Alliance. “With the EuroTech Universities Alliance, we are pooling our complementary research strengths and connecting our innovation ecosystems for more impact. Technion is a “perfect match” to join – and boost this joint endeavour, given its scientific excellence and vibrant innovation ecosystem.”

Boasting 84 ERC grants under the EU’s FP7 and Horizon 2020 programs as well as 90 spin-off companies, Technion is a striking example of how excellent fundamental science translates into impact.

“Technion is thrilled and honoured to join the EuroTech Universities Alliance”, said Technion President, Prof. Peretz Lavie. “We live in an era in which international and interdisciplinary collaborations are vital to the future of scientific research. We bring the ‘Technion way’ of doing things to this partnership: reaching our goals faster and with fewer resources. The combination with the great strengths of the other members of the alliance, which comprises an elite group of European universities similar to Technion, will help us ensure we are at the forefront of scientific research, benefiting millions worldwide. “

The EuroTech Universities Alliance stimulates collaboration across education, research, and innovation, thereby increasing the attraction of global top talent needed to drive modernization, excellence, and societal impact. For instance, the existing EuroTech Postdoc program provides 80 promising fellows unique access to the research expertise and infrastructures across the EuroTech Universities while at the same time offering exclusive entrepreneurship and mobility opportunities in several of Europe’s top high-tech ecosystems.

Today’s societal challenges can only be addressed by collaboration in education, research, and innovation across the EU and internationally. Recognizing what alliances of universities can achieve when pooling resources and combining strengths, the European Commission launched a pilot scheme in support of European university networks on 24 October 2018. At its annual High-Level Event in Brussels on November 6th, the EuroTech Universities Alliance facilitated a very timely and encouraging debate on the role of university alliances in driving the University of the Future.

Digital Health Week

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It’s Digital Health Week! Technion Faculty, Researchers and Alumni are leading the way in developing ground-breaking technologies to improve in the Health field! There are so many new startups coming out of the Technion in this field; we bring you the top 6 in the news!

Na Nose

Scent detecting digital devices to detect diseases continues to provide results! Professor Hossam Haick of Technion developed the Na Nose to smell out cancer and other diseases in their early stages:


CureWave by Insightec uses non-invasive MRI thermal imaging system to treat everything from neurosurgery to women’s health operations. Technion graduate, Kobi Vortman, talks about how his innovation works:

Mazor Robotics

Have you heard that Medtronics recently bought Mazor Robotics for a record breaking $1.6 billion? Professor Moshe Shoham tells us more about his Spinal Surgery innovation:


ReWalk, founded by Technion graduate Dr. Amit Goffer, was recently inaugurated into the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This news boosts the hope for many paraplegic veterans will to have the chance to walk again! This is how it works! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5zl7fglMgo

Perhaps they will soon adopt Goffer’s new wheeled robotic device


PillCam, developed by Dr. Gavriel Iddan, is a pill containing a tiny camera to safely travel through your insides without leaving a trace!

Digital Health is definitely something to acknowledge and celebrate! From early diagnosis, to the ability to walk again, these innovators work hard save and prolong our lives!

Cyber Security Month

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With technology growing at unimaginable rates, security to keep parts of our lives and businesses private must grow in step! In a world where anything can be created, anything can be hacked, as well. Staying a heartbeat ahead can save billions of dollars and grief! Technion Cyber Security news has been positive and encouraging; the institute is definitely pulling its weight in progress!

In June, Cortana caused a bit of a scare after Technion students discovered a hole in its security.Read all about these remarkable Technion Students.

Realizing the prevalence and necessity of Cybersecurity, supported by the Japanese entrepreneur Dr. Hiroshi Fujiwara and the Israel National Cyber Bureau in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Technion Hiroshi Fujiwara Cyber Security Research Center was inaugurated in April 2016 and aims to become a top leading cyber security research facility that will contribute greatly to the field. Read about some of the research highlights.

Internet of Things security is a rising trend and Argus is working together with Continental to keep you safe while entrusting AI. Read about Argus Cyber Security, the global leader in automotive cyber security whose CTO and co-founder is Technion graduate, Yaron Galula.

Just like the universe’s expansion, technology shows no indication of slowing down, all we can do is adapt and keep up.

Privacy is more and more of a luxury with every passing day. Your cyber footprint’s security warrants a hefty price tag and Technion’s alumni and faculty are working to guarantee that safety!