BGU | The Sky is No Limit

A New View of the Moon BGU-developed Hyperspectral Imager to Go to the Moon with Beresheet-2

Illustration of Beresheet-2. Courtesy of SpaceIL. Full moon taken from International Space Station. Photo: Dylan O’Donnell

BGU scientists are supporting the Beresheet-2 mission by developing a miniscule hyperspectral imager that will record geological features and mineral composition on the moon. According to the plans, the Beresheet-2 spacecraft will enter an orbit around the moon. From there, it will launch two landing crafts equipped with scientific instruments to perform experiments on the surface of the moon. One of the tools for these experiments is the sophisticated hyperspectral camera developed by BGU faculty members Prof. Adrian Stern, Prof. Dan Blumberg, Prof. Stanley Rotman, and Dr. Yitzhak August. What makes this particular camera unique is its range and ability to compress the optical information that will be transmitted back to Earth. The high-resolution camera can capture over 100 wavelength ranges in visible light and near-infrared, and will photograph selected areas of the lunar surface (similar to the cameras installed on the Webb Space Telescope), including areas that were difficult to

photograph from Earth up until now – the polar regions and the far side of the moon. The technology was selected by SpaceIL to be part of the mission with the hope that it can provide an opportunity for precise and systematic mineral analysis and mapping, leading to a better understanding of the geology of the surface of the moon. Prof. Stanley Rotman, an expert in multidimensional image processing in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: “The development of the algorithm makes it possible to receive an accurate color spectrum for each object, hence the data about the nature of the material will also be more accurate.” The technology behind the tiny camera developed at BGU was licensed by BGN Technologies, the University’s technology transfer company, to Noohra, a hyperspectral imaging startup. In keeping with the founding ethos of the SpaceIL project, the hyperspectral imagery captured in the experiment

will be transmitted back to Earth and later be made public, while the researchers will make available dedicated analytical tools for the analysis of the images to researchers worldwide. Dr. Jimmy Levy, co-founder of Noohra shares that ethos: “We very much look forward to sharing the data collected by our hyperspectral imaging system with scientists and students around the world to deepen our understanding of the physical and chemical processes on the moon’s surface.” Prof. Dan Blumberg, BGU’s Vice President for Regional & Industrial Development and one of the leaders of the project, explained succinctly, “The scientific research that goes on at Ben-Gurion and other universities is a basis for breakthroughs in all areas of life. The opportunity to test our developments in an actual space mission is a privilege as well as affirmation of the value of our work.”

12 | English Edition | November 2023

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