Israeli Agronomy Reaches for the Moon

The early Zionists, and their successors, famously made the desert bloom, and the Jewish state to this day continues to export its agricultural innovations. Now Israeli scientists are exploring how they might raise plants in a very different nonarable surface: that of the moon. Nathan Jeffay writes:

Israeli scientists are planning to try growing a range of seeds into plants on the moon, in the most ambitious attempt yet at extraplanetary agriculture. The project is the next frontier for a research institute located in the Negev Desert in Israel’s south, a region famously inhospitable to agriculture but which has nevertheless been made to bloom in populated areas.

Astronauts on the International Space Station grow plants, but agriculture elsewhere in space has so far been limited to a Chinese cotton seed that sprouted on the moon in 2019. Ben-Gurion University researchers are working with universities in Australia and South Africa to prepare a tiny two-kilogram greenhouse with a range of seeds and plants that will head to the moon in 2025. It will travel aboard Beresheet 2, the second attempt at an unmanned moon landing by the Israeli SpaceIL nonprofit.

“Bases on the moon or colonies on Mars could become a reality, and we’re exploring whether we know how to grow plants there,” Professor Simon Barak of [Ben-Gurion University said], adding that the approach of sealed chambers dispatched from earth would be a likely solution. . . . He said that the project will have a strong citizen-science component, with people across Israel and outside it, including high-school students, urged to grow the same seeds and plants as those dispatched to the moon. These will constitute control groups, for comparison with those on the moon.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli agriculture, Israeli technology, Space exploration

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security