The Duchifat-2 was one of 28 nanosatellites from 23 different countries launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The satellite, which is intended to study the plasma density in the lower thermosphere, was launched as part of the European Union’s QB50 thermosphere research program and was unique in being the only satellite to be built by secondary school students. The Duchifat-2 is 20cm x 10cm and weighs just four pounds, using the earth’s magnetic field to keep itself aligned in space.
The rocket carrying the nanosatellites is expected to reach the International Space Station after approximately two days of travel. Then, the Duchifat-2 will be released into space after six weeks. The Herzliya Science Center and the students will analyse the data received from the satellite which is set to operate for 12 months.
Pupils aged from 15 to 18 from schools in Herzliya, Ofakim, Yeruham, the Bedouin town Hura, and the Ofra settlement in the West Bank, helped construct the device. The project took two years to complete and was funded by the Israel Space Agency and Herzl Science Center.
Israel’s Science Minister Ofir Akunis stated: “Duchifat-2 is not only an educational venture that brings space closer to youth and lays the way for tomorrow’s generations, it is also an international research project. This is Israeli pride for the future generation, and an opportunity to increase public awareness about space”.
The first satellite created by Israeli secondary school students, the Duchifat-1, was launched in 2014. The Duchifat-1 was a radio satellite intended to help lost travellers in areas without mobile phone reception.