GALI experiment led by ASRI member and former Director, Prof. Ehud Behar, and Prof. Shlomit Tarem, will be launched to the ISS

03 Jan 2022

A team led by Prof. Shlomit Tarem and Prof. Ehud Behar from the Physics department has developed an experiment that will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) along with other experiments planned and built at the Technion. The team includes Ph.D. student Roi Rahin, postdoctoral fellow Luca Moleri, undergraduate student Solomon Margolin, research team members Alex Vdovin and Amir Feigenboim, and the technical team from ASRI, Avner Kaidar, Oganes Agalarian, Yulia Kouniavsky, and Dr. Alex Frid. The experiments will be launched with Eytan Stibbe, the second Israeli in space.

Stibbe is scheduled to fly to the ISS in early 2022 as part of the Axiom Space Ax-1 Mission, the first private astronaut mission to the space station. The Israeli part of the mission is called the 'Rakia Mission' and it is conducted by the Ramon Foundation, of which Stibbe is one of the founders, the Israeli Space Agency and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology. The main purpose of the 'Rakia Mission': to use the infrastructure of the space station to perform experiments designed in Israel. The experiments chosen by the Ramon Foundation, after a long and rigorous screening process, are multidisciplinary experiments that come from diverse field are expected to lead to technological, scientific and medical breakthroughs that will affect human life on Earth and life outside it.

The GALI, Gamma-ray burst localizing instrument, experiment is an innovative system for detecting gamma ray bursts. Placing the system in the ISS will help detect this radiation, which results from high-energy eruptions in distant galaxies. It is widely assumed that short gamma-ray bursts are emitted from mergers of two neutron stars - an event that also produces gravitational waves. However, to date only one such event has been detected, hence there is a need to improve the detection capabilities of gamma radiation detectors. The detector developed by the team in our department is based on hundreds of small crystals arranged in a unique pattern and absorbing gamma rays. Based on the relative signal received in each crystal it is possible to identify the location of the eruption in the sky with high accuracy. According to the researchers, "the ability to detect direction up to a few degrees is the innovation of our device, which will allow us and astronomers around the world to aim their telescopes at an event, study the eruption and link it to other events such as gravitational waves". GALI improves on earlier detectors by utilizing sensors significantly smaller than those previously used, arranged in an innovative 3D array. It is thanks to this unique arrangement that, while being much smaller than previous gamma-ray burst detectors, GALI promises to be more precise in its directionality capabilities.