Israeli astronaut

  • Issue: December 2001
  • Artist: Daniel Goldberg
  • Stamp Size: 30.8 mm x 30.8 mm
  • Plate no.: 456 - one phosphor bar
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Offset

The cooperation agreement signed by the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) and the
American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1996 included provisions for the flight of Israel's first astronaut into space on a NASA space shuttle, in order to perform the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX). Israeli air force pilot Colonel Ilan Ramon was selected to carry out this important mission. MEIDEX is part of the international research effort aimed at understanding global climate change, currently the most urgent issue on the world agenda of atmospheric research. The experiment was planned by a team of scientists from the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences of Tel Aviv University. It will be carried out in May 2002 during the course of the space shuttle's Columbia flight STS-107. For a period of 16 days, the space shuttle will orbit the earth at an altitude of 278 kilometers once every 90 minutes, passing over the Mediterranean 2-3 times a day during daylight hours.

During his space flight over our region, the Israeli astronaut on board the Columbia will operate a camera that will image aerosol particles in the atmosphere in several different wavelengths. Aerosols are small particles floating in the air, usually from desert regions or from air-pollution sources. The aerosols over the Mediterranean region and the Atlantic Ocean usually come from the Sahara desert. They may have a significant effect on global warming, which is the reason NASA is investing such great efforts to measure them from its satellites.

Another element of the experiment will be collection of samples by an Israeli aircraft from the aerosols observed by the astronaut. An integrated analysis of these chemical samples and the photographic images obtained from space , will provide findings which will complement and assist in the interpretation of NASA satellites data. Thus the MEIDEX experiment will contribute to the improvement of models of the passage of solar radiation through the atmosphere and to improved--- forecasting of global climatic change.

In addition to his main mission within the framework of MEIDEX, during the night the Israeli astronaut will monitor from space a newly discovered phenomenon in the upper atmosphere, associated with severe thunderstorms, which scientists have named "sprites".

The shuttle flight crew will also conduct an experiment planned by junior high school pupils from several schools in Israel. The experiment is designed to demonstrate the impact of weightlessness on familiar physical phenomena, such as the growth of crystals, whose spatial orientation on earth is influenced by its gravitational field.

Extensive publicity activities regarding MEIDEX and the flight of the first Israeli astronaut, aimed at both school children and the general public, will help create awareness and understanding of the scientific activities being carried out in space by Israeli researchers and their colleagues from nations around the world.

Aby Har-Even
Director General Israeli Space Agency

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Philately day - The first Israeli astronaut