The Technion Returns to Space

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The Technion Returns to Space

On March 22, the Adelis- SAMSON project – an autonomous satellite that will detect high precision earth-based satellites – was launched into space. This is the first simultaneous launch of three Israeli satellites. The project was developed with the support of the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and IAI

Technion President Uri Sivan: “Every time you look up at the sky, remember that the Technion has returned to space”

On Monday morning, at 8:07 Israel time, the autonomous satellite group developed at the Technion as part of the “Adelis- SAMSON ” project was launched into space aboard a Glavkosmos Soyuz rocket. The satellites were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan – the world’s first spaceport, and the first site to send a human into space (April 1961, Yuri Gagarin). The Adelis-Samson project is supported by the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, and the Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Aerospace.

Four hours and twenty minutes after the launch, the Adelis- SAMSON satellites entered orbit. Thirty minutes later, they “woke up” and began operating their systems.

Watching the live broadcast from the control center at the Asher Space Research Institute were Technion President, Professor Uri Sivan, Vice President and CEO Professor Boaz Golani, Vice President for Foreign Relations and Resource Development Professor Alon Wolf, Head of the Asher Space Research Institute  Professor Yoram Rosen, and the people who have been accompanying the project since its inception, headed by Professor Pini Gurfil of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering and the Asher Space Research Institute .

“This morning’s launch was accompanied by tremendous excitement”, said Prof. Pini Gurfil. “A basic study over the course of many years, combined with advanced Israeli technology, allows Israel to take an important step forward in the field of micro-satellites. You could compare the innovation of nanosatellites to switching from the computer to the cellphone. The Adelis- SAMSON project demonstrates a new concept in nanosatellites and will enable many operations to be carried out that have been reserved until now for large and expensive satellites. This is a leap in the field of miniature satellites in the capabilities of the Technion and for the entire State of Israel, and one which will make the Technion a global pioneer in the fields of location and communication, with diverse applications including missing persons detection, search and rescue, remote sensing and environmental monitoring”.

The trio of satellites will move in space in an autonomous structure flight, that is, they will move in coordination with each other without the need for guidance from the ground. The band will be used to calculate the location of radiating sources on Earth, a technology that will be applied in locating people, planes, and ships. Each of the three miniature satellites (CubeSats) weighs about 8 kg and is replete with sensors, antennae, computer systems, control systems, navigation devices, and a unique and innovative propulsion system. The satellites will travel at an altitude of 600 km above ground and will detect high precision signals from Earth. The signals will be transmitted to a special mission control center inside the Asher Space Research Institute. The mission receiver developed by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).

“The Adelis- SAMSON project is a wonderful and exciting example of the successful integration of science and technology and the translation of innovative ideas into effective systems that contribute to humanity”, said Prof. Uri Sivan, President of the Technion. “Scientific and technological breakthroughs require multidisciplinary research and close collaboration between academia and industry, and this is what has led the project to this important day. Each time that you look up at the sky, remember that the Technion has succeeded again in reaching space”.

“The current project continues a Technion tradition that began in 1998 with the successful launch of the Gurwin-TechSat II“, added the Technion President. “That satellite operated in space for more than 11 years, a record time for academic activity in space. The launch of Adelis- SAMSON is a dramatic moment that we have been waiting nine years for and will follow closely. I sincerely thank our partners at the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israel Space Agency and the Israel Aerospace Industries for helping us make this project a reality”.

The unique development of these satellites was made possible by an exceptional collaboration between academia and industry. A special propulsion system, based on krypton gas, will be the first of its kind in the world to operate on a tiny satellite. The digital receiver and the directional control system were developed at IAI’s plant, in collaboration with Technion researchers. In addition to the propulsion system, the satellites will accumulate energy through solar panels that will be deployed  from each satellite and will serve as wings that will control, if necessary, the flight of the formation without the use of fuel, using air resistance in the atmosphere. Each of the nanosatellites is fitted with one of the most complex digital receivers ever designed. The system for processing the information on the satellite and the algorithms that will keep the structures flying is among the first of their kind in the world, and support the simultaneous autonomous operation of all three satellites. The navigation system includes two GPS receivers for autonomous navigation. The system through which the three nanosatellites will communicate with each other, as well as with the ground station, will be operated at three different frequencies – a significant challenge that was resolved in the current project. A dedicated frequency will be used to transmit information to Earth through broadband.

Satellite control and propulsion systems are also a technological innovation. To save fuel, the satellites are aided by two natural forces – gravity and atmospheric resistance – and thus propel themselves. In this way they need a small amount of fuel – less than a gram of fuel per day per satellite. This achievement is the result of ten years of research that preceded the launch.

The monitoring of the satellites and the collection of data that will be transmitted will take place at the Adelis- SAMSON control station, inaugurated at the Technion in 2018. Built with the support of the Adelis Foundation, it contains an array of antennas made by Israeli Orbit company and will communicate continuously with the satellites.

In the words of Mrs. Rebecca Boukhris, Adelis Foundation Trustee: “For many years, space and space technology have been considered the domain of superpowers, and too grand, expensive, and complex for small countries. Israel has demonstrated that this is not the case, and it is vital that it is a member of the elite international space community. The rapid development of the space industry in Israel is essential. This project is unique for the Adelis Foundation in that it symbolizes the spirit, genius, and strength of Israel. In effect, it highlights the technological and scientific brilliance of Israel and positions our country on the world map in the field of aerospace, and all this on a modest budget within the university setting of Technion. The Adelis Foundation considers itself as sowing the seeds of the future and hopes that this project will be the first of many more. We hope that many other small and brilliant projects will take the Adelis-SAMSON mission as an example and develop a new ingenious space mission for the benefit of the State of Israel”.

“The field of nano-satellites has recently been booming and the number of launches is increasing every year”, says Avi Blasberger, director of the Israeli Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology. “The cost of developing and launching such satellites, capable of performing a variety of uses, is significantly lower than those of regular satellites. In the near future networks are expected to appear to include thousands of nanosatellites that will cover the Earth and enable high-speed internet communication at a significantly lower cost than is currently available, as well as having many other applications such as the one demonstrated in the SAMSON satellites”.

“We see great importance in our collaboration with the Technion to promote academic research and future technologies in the field of space”, says IAI President & CEO Boaz Levy. “IAI, Israel’s ‘National Space House’, sees high value in its connection to academia on the business and technological levels to advance Israel’s continued innovation and leadership in the field of space. This partnership promotes the development of the entire ecosystem and IAI is proud to join forces in this innovative and groundbreaking project”.

Among the many partners of Technion’s Adelis-SAMSON project are the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Science, and IAI. From the Technion, many researchers from the Asher Space Research Institute participated in the project – Avner  Kaidar, Hovik Agalarian, Dr. Vladimir  Balabanov,  Eviatar Edlerman, Yaron Oz, Maxim Rubanovich, Margarita Shamis, Yulia  Kouniavsky, Tzahi Ezra, and Dr. Alex  Frid, as well as many students over the years.

Technion City Opens for Spring Semester

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Technion City Opens for Spring Semester

The Technion campus has opened; students are back in the classrooms.  “It’s just like the first day of first grade,” said one biology student

Students return to campus.

The Technion opened for the 2021 spring semester on Sunday, using a model of hybrid teaching – a combination of online and frontal teaching – in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s restrictions and “green” guidelines. After a challenging year of online learning , students are returning to classrooms, campuses, and frontal learning after presenting a vaccine certificate and pre-registering. 

The Technion buildings and faculties were well prepared for the students’ return. The security unit has assigned bouncers, security guards, scouts, and certified COVID-19 inspectors on the contained campus to keep students and faculty members safe, and to ensure that green regulations for COVID-19 are maintained. Only students with a vaccine certificate are able to study in classrooms, and class sizes are regulated.

Returning students were greeted by a banner that read, “We Came Back Green,” placed by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Student Union. The celebration also included eye-opening flags, placards, fortune cookies, and cards.

“This is a special day for all of us,” said Technion President, Professor Uri Sivan on a tour of the campus with Senior Vice President Professor Oded Rabinowitz and the Deans of the Technion. “The members of the academic and administrative staff have already gradually returned to campus in the past two weeks, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s guidelines. Today, it is the turn of the students, who are the heartbeat of the Technion, to return to the classrooms. This spring semester comes after a long winter, and after the pandemic that lasted a whole year. Now we can finally go back and hear the academic hum in the classrooms, in the labs, in the hallways, and in the offices. With the return of the students, the campus will return to being a vibrant intellectual center.” 

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan with students on campus tour

“I haven’t taught on campus in over a year and it’s definitely refreshing – a thousand times more comfortable than teaching on Zoom, which is sadly what we’ve become used to,” said Professor Eitan Yaakobi, researcher and lecturer in combinatorics in the Taub Faculty of Computer Science. “For the students here in class today, it’s the first time that they are studying live on campus. We now understand how important it is to have a personal relationship with the students, something I really missed this past year. Good luck to all the teachers, and especially to those learning, the students.”

“I’m really excited to be here, and I think the lecturer is more excited than anyone,” said Liad Pearl, a second-year student in computer engineering. “Suddenly, people are making jokes in class and laughing for real, not in front of a screen.”

“We’re very excited to be back in class,” said first-year biology students in Professor Meital Landau’s biochemistry and enzymology course, “just like on the first day of first grade.”

“Studying at home, on Zoom, was difficult for us,” said students in Dr. Nadav Amdursky’s analytical chemistry course, “both in terms of having technological issues as well as having distractions at home. We’re happy to be back in class.”

A year ago, on the eve of opening the spring semester 2020, Israel Council for Higher Education imposed a blanket ban on frontal teaching. Despite the short notice, the Technion managed to open the 2020 spring semester online on the scheduled date of March 18, with hardly any problems. It was the result of a conscious and ongoing effort to introduce digital teaching technologies in the years prior to the pandemic.

The two semesters since March 2020 have taken place online, thanks to the tireless work of Technion Senior Vice President Professor Oded Rabinowitz, Dean of Undergraduate Studies Professor Hossam Haick, and many others. This period has shown that while digital platforms allow for online learning and continued studies, they cannot completely replace frontal teaching. The interaction between students and lecturers is an essential component of campus life, learning, and student development. This is the background for the advancement of hybrid teaching, which combines online teaching with active classroom learning.

11 Years of Autonomous Driving

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11 Years of Autonomous Driving

The Technion held the final stage of the Nadav Shoham Robotraffic Competition. This year’s competition was held in a virtual format with the participation of hundreds of high school students from 10 countries

The Technion held the final round of the 11th Nadav Shoham Robotraffic competition. Hundreds of high school students from 10 different countries took part this year in a virtual format, and the final stage concluded five consecutive days of competition.

This year, the participating schools received instructions in advance, and each of them showcased their model car in a live, online performance. The main advantage of the virtual format was the number of schools it enabled to participate and their diverse geographical distribution; some schools were participating for the first time in such a competition. In total, this year’s competition included about 50 teams, including 12 from Russia, 6 from China, and teams from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan, the USA, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Israel.

The competition had five categories, two of which were shown live during the week. The team that won first place in the Careful Driving Category received a scholarship for a full year’s tuition at the Technion.  Additional prizes for the winners of the competition were donated by Nvidia.  

Technion Senior Executive Vice President, Professor Oded Rabinovitch, told the students that “robots have become an integral part of our lives in recent years and we all encounter them in school, at work and in our leisure time. Their presence will only increase in the years to come, and the current competition gives you a taste of the diverse and unique world of robotics and an understanding of the importance of the mathematical and scientific fundamentals in solving engineering challenges. If you understand this, you have won, no matter the results of the competition.”

The competition was led by the Head of the Leumi Robotics Center Professor Moshe Shoham, together with the Director of the Center Dr. Evgeny Korchnoy. Over the past year, Technion International also become involved through the International School of Engineering.

“The past year has emphasized the necessity of autonomous robots in protecting medical teams, the brave fighters at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus, but also in many other contexts,” said Prof. Shoham. “We are happy to hold this competition every year, bringing high school students closer to the world of robotics and allowing them to experience some of the enormous potential inherent in this field.”

“Organizing this year’s competition obliged everyone to put in a lot of effort due to time differences and of course because of the pandemic and lockdowns, which made it difficult to prepare in groups,” added Dr. Korchnoy. “We are pleased to note that the proportion of female students in the competition is growing, and we have a few groups of female-only students. “

The Robotraffic Competition, which was held for the first time in January 2010, is intended to foster interest in science and technology by developing autonomous vehicles able to drive in an urban environment according to traffic laws. In preparation for the competition, the students learned about robotics, driving laws and road safety rules, and acquired “real world” skills, including leadership, initiative, and teamwork. The competition is a joint project of the Leumi Robotics Center at the Technion, World ORT – Kadima Mada, and the World Zionist Organization in collaboration with YTEK, Nvidia and IBS, and supported by Bank Leumi.

Winners of the competitions are as below:

Category A: Careful Driving

  1. “Career Planning Center” Tomsk (Team-2) Russia
  2. “Career Planning Center” Tomsk (Team-1) Russia
  3. ORT Argentina (Team-2)

Category B: Racing

  1. Hlukhiv Centre of Extra Education, Ukraine
  2. ORT Argentina (Team-2)
  3. Kansk College of Technology, Russia

Category C: Reverse Parking

  1. Kansk College of Technology, Russia
  2. ORT Specialized School #41, Chernivtsi, Ukraine
  3. Hlukhiv Centre of Extra Education, Ukraine

Category D: Traffic Safety Initiatives

  1. ORT Kiev NVK-141, Ukraine
  2. Frankel Jewish Academy, Detroit, USA and Hlukhiv Center of Extra Education, Ukraine
  3. ORT Argentina

Category E: Learning car structure with 3D CAD

  1. ORT Specialized School #41, Chernivtsi, Ukraine
  2. Hlukhiv Centre of Extra Education, Ukraine
  3. ORT “Alef”Jewish Gymnasium, Zaporozhye, Ukraine

 

Award: Striving for Excellence in Robotics Studies  1.  Suzhou No.10 High School of Jiangsu Province, China2.  Taicang Walton Foreign Language School, China3.  Mingde Senior High School, China4.  ORT Tekhiya School 1311, Moscow, Russia5.  Centro Paula Souza, São Paulo, Brazil6.  ORT Mexico7.  Peterson School, Mexico8.  Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam9.  Taipei Private Tsai Hsing High School, Taiwan10.Misgav High School, Israel NVIDIA Prize“Career Planning Center”, Tomsk (Team1 and Team 2), Russia

 

For a video of the Robotraffic Competition,click here

Technion Returns to Outer Space

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Technion Returns to Outer Space
For the first time, three Israeli satellites will be launched simultaneously on March 20. The Adelis-SAMSON project from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology involves three autonomous nanosatellites that will fly in formation and monitor Earth from space

The “Adelis-SAMSON” project, an autonomous group of three nanosatellites built and developed by the Technion – Israel institute of Technology, will be launched into orbit on March 20, 2021. The project is the passion of a research team led by Professor Pini Gurfil of the Asher Space Research Institute (ASRI), and the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, with the support of the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, and the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The satellites will piggyback on a Glavkosmos Soyuz rocket from a site in Kazakhstan, and once in orbit, will be used to calculate the location of people, planes, and ships. The cluster of satellites will fly in formation in space by utilizing autonomous communication and control, without needing guidance from the ground.

The Adelis-SAMSON formation includes three miniature satellites (CubeSats), each weighing about 8 kg (17 ½ lb). Each CubeSat includes sensors, antennae, computer systems, control systems, navigation devices, and a unique and innovative propulsion system. The satellites will travel at an altitude of 550 km (341 mi) above ground and will detect signals from Earth using a mission receiver developed by IAI. The CubeSats will then transmit these signals to a mission control center located at Technion’s Asher Space Research Institute.

The nanosatellite

“Basic research over the course of many years, combined with advanced Israeli technology, allows Israel to take an important step forward in the field of nanosatellites,” explained Prof. Gurfil.

“You could compare the innovation of nanosatellites to switching from the personal computer to the cellphone. The Adelis-Samson project demonstrates a new concept in nanosatellite design and will enable many operations to be carried out that have been reserved until now for large and expensive satellites,” he continued. “This is a leap in the field of miniature satellites, in the capabilities of the Technion, and for the entire State of Israel, and one which will make the Technion a global pioneer in the fields of geolocation and satellite communication, with diverse applications including search and rescue, remote sensing, and environmental monitoring.”

“The Adelis-SAMSON project is a wonderful and exciting example of the successful integr

ation of science and technology and the transformation of innovative ideas into effective systems that contribute to humanity,” said Professor Uri Sivan, President of the Technion. “Scientific and technological breakthroughs require multidisciplinary research and close collaboration between academia and industry, and this is what has led the project to this important day.”

“The current project continues a Technion tradition that began in 1998 with the successful launch of the Gurwin-TechSat II,” added the Technion President. “That satellite has been operating in space for more than 11 years, a record time for academic activity in space. The launch of Adelis-SAMSON is a dramatic moment that we have been waiting nine years for and will follow closely. “

I sincerely thank our partners at the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israel Space Agency, and Israel Aerospace Industries for helping us make this project a reality. “

2. Engineers & researchers from the Asher Space Research Institute at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology with the nanosatellites

“For many years there has been a widespread belief that space technologies – and space itself – are the domain of leading economic powers, and are out of reach of ordinary countries,” said Mrs. Rebecca Boukhris, Trustee of Adelis Foundation. “Today there is no dispute that Israel now belongs to the exclusive club of space powers, thanks to the rapid development of the space industry in Israel. Adelis-SAMSON is a unique project that embodies the Israeli spirit, power and intellectual resources. Israel shows its strength in technology and science and puts itself firmly on the world map of aerospace, all on a modest budget and in an academic environment. The Adelis Foundation sees itself as an organization that sows the seeds of the future and we hope that this project will be the first of many, inspiring other small and brilliant projects to lead Israel’s development in space and bring recognition to the State of Israel.”

“The field of nano-satellites has been booming recently and the number of launches is increasing every year,” says Avi Blasberger, director of the Israeli Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology. “The cost of developing and launching such satellites, capable of performing a variety of uses, is significantly lower than those of regular satellites. In the near future networks are expected to appear to include thousands of nanosatellites that will cover the Earth and enable high-speed internet communication at a significantly lower cost than is currently available, as well as having many other applications such as the one demonstrated in the Adelis-SAMSON satellites.”

 

“We see great importance in our collaboration with the Technion to promote academic research and future technologies in the field of space,” says IAI President & CEO Boaz Levy. “IAI, Israel’s ‘National Space House’, sees high value in its connection to academia on the business and the technological levels to advance Israel’s continued innovation and leadership in the field of space. This partnership promotes the development of the entire ecosystem and IAI is proud to join forces in this innovative and groundbreaking project.” Israel’s next generation satellites resulted from exceptional collaboration between academia and industry. A special propulsion system, based on krypton gas, will be the first of its kind in the world to operate on a tiny satellite. The digital receiver and the attitude control system were developed by IAI in collaboration with Technion researchers.In addition to the propulsion system, the satellites will accumulate energy through solar panels that will be deployed next to each satellite and will serve as wings that will control, if necessary, the flight of the formation without the use of fuel, using air drag in the atmosphere. Each of the nanosatellites is fitted with a digital receiver, one of the most complex ever to fly on a nanosatellite. The system for processing the information on the satellite and the algorithms that will keep the formation flying will be among the first of their kind in the world, and will support the autonomous operation of several satellites simultaneously. The navigation system will include two GPS receivers that will be used for autonomous navigation. The communication system through which the three nanosatellites will communicate with each other as well as with the ground station will be operated at three different frequencies – a significant challenge that was resolved in the current project. A dedicated frequency will be used to transmit information to Earth through broadband. 

There are many partners in Technion’s Adelis-SAMSON project, including the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and IAI. From the Technion, researchers from the Asher Space Research Institute included Avner Keidar, Hovik Agalarian, Dr. Vladimir Balabanov, Eviatar Edlerman, Yaron Oz, Maxim Rubanovich, Margarita Shamis, Yulia Koneivsky, Tzachi Ezra and Dr. Alex Fried, as well as many students over the years.

Apter Society Continues Legacy of Support

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Members of the Apter Society establish a scholarship at the Technion, 1974 – photo courtesy of Susan Born

The Apter Society Continues Legacy of Support for Technion

The connection between the Apter Friendly Society of Toronto and the Technion goes back nearly 50 years, when the ‘The Apter Jewish Kehila Memorial Scholarship Fund’ was established at the Technion with an initial donation of $5000 in 1974.

Inspired by the Technion engineers who were building the State of Israel, the scholarship was a way for the Society to support the Jewish community, both locally and in Israel.

The Apter ‘Friendly’ Society was originally established in 1905 by a group of people who immigrated to Toronto from the town of Opatow, Poland.  Apt (Opatow) was a small shtetl near Kieltz where 6,000 Jews lived before the war.  After 1945, with the arrival of Holocaust survivors who were born in Opatow, the society evolved into a ‘landsmanshaft’ (mutual benefit) society.   Bound by a common history of life in the ‘shtetl’ and living through and surviving the atrocities of the war,  the Society supported and united the survivors  and helped to preserve the memory of their past into the future.  

Today, there are 10 remaining living members of the original group of approximately 180 members.  The Society is comprised of children and grandchildren of this original group of survivors.   The executive committee of the Apter Society continues to be inspired by the creativity and achievements of the Technion that benefit and advance science and engineering throughout the world.  “We are honoured to continue the path of our founders in further supporting Technion in Israel,” says Susan Born, daughter of past Apter Society member Sam Salcman z” l.

The living descendants, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of the survivor members of the Apter Society are now integrated into the general Canadian cultural mosaic but continue to honour the experiences and memories of the founders.  An annual memorial service held at the Apter Cemetery site memorializes the 6000 Jews from Opatow who were exterminated by the Nazis.  Apters worldwide are invited to connect through the Apter website and Instagram group.