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Israel Linked to a Global Laser Tracking Station

Israel’s link in a global laser tracking station that gathers scientific data about the earth, was dedicated Tuesday at Bar Giora, southwest of Jerusalem. It is to be operated in conjunction with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA). One of the main objectives is the ability to predict earthquakes.

Attending the dedication ceremonies were the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Thomas Pickering, and Gideon Patt, the Israeli Minister for Science and Development. The station, part of a network of 30 tracking stations around the world, will be operated by the seismological branch of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure’s Institute of Fuel and Geophysical Research. It is the first of its kind in the Middle East.

The global network is run by NASA. Each station fires laser beams at an orbiting satellite. The beams bounce back to earth and from them it is possible, among other things, to gain data on the speed of the earth’s axial rotation, changes in its gravitational and electro-magnetic fields and the movement of the earth’s crust-plate tectonics. Repeated measurements of returning beams could indicate tectonic activity and thereby help predict earthquakes.

In addition, a seismographic research station will soon be installed at the Bar-Giora site in the Judaean hills as a result of a recent agreement between the Israel Energy Ministry’s Earth Sciences Research Administration and the U.S. Geological Institute.

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