In the era of “new space”, civilians, professors, and students can send satellites into the galaxy. For the past two years, a sector of the Tel Aviv University has been building such a satellite, dubbed TAU-SAT1. About the size of a shoebox, the device is built to collect data and measure cosmic radiation from the lowest earth orbit, around 400 kilometers from earth.
The project was developed at the Nanosatellite Center at TAU, and the research experiments by the Space Environment Department at the Soreq Nuclear Research Center. The research is built around measuring energy particles and monitoring radiation, in attempts to create safer space journeys for astronauts and space systems.
The TAU-SAT1 aims to launch in early 2021, and is currently being tested at a Japanese space agency, JAXA. Ofer Amrani, head of the Nanosatellite department, says that the satellite will take about 90 minutes to orbit earth, and when it passes over Israel, they should receive relevant data. The satellite is expected to be active for several months in total. Amrani says that “because it has no engine, its trajectory will fade over time as the result of atmospheric drag – it will burn up in the atmosphere and come back to us as stardust.”