Jerusalem: Israeli scientists are developing miniature satellites that can identify people in distress.
Experts at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology aim to launch three small satellites weighing six kg each to orbit earth at an altitude of 600 km for one year.
Once in orbit, the satellites would pinpoint people showing signs of distress, Xinhua reported quoting the daily Ma`ariv Wednesday.
The orbiters will also help conduct surveillance of birds` migratory patterns across the globe, among other missions.
Project head Pini Gurfil received a $2.1-million grant from the European Research Council last June to develop Disaggregated Spacecraft Architectures (DSA), a method for launching satellites in separate components.
After reaching their designated altitude, these unattached components would cluster together and communicate wirelessly to form a complete satellite.
The researchers` ultimate goal is to develop technology that will enable flight in a DSA formation.
"This is the first time ever that an attempt will be made to launch three satellites, which will fly together in a unified formation," Gurfil told Ma`ariv.
"A launching of this kind has not been possible until now due to the size and weight of the satellites and other problems," he said.
As part of the experiment, the satellites will be equipped with a specially-designed propulsion system that will assist in maintaining the flight formation for an extended period of time. Once in space, the satellites will attempt to receive signals from earth and calculate their origin.
The project will be officially inaugurated next week at the 7th annual Ilan Ramon Space Conference near Tel Aviv, which will be attended by representatives of international space agencies and leading space experts. Technion researchers have set 2015 as the deadline for a launch.
Gurfil said that if successful, the experiment would be significant to the development of miniature satellites and technologies that seek to miniaturize electronic components for civilian applications.