(Israel Twitter)Israel's eight public universities are subsidized by the state. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel's oldest university, houses the Jewish National and University Library, the world's largest repository of books on Jewish subjects. The Hebrew University is consistently ranked among world's 100 top universities by the prestigious ARWU academic ranking. Other major universities in the country include the Technion, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel Aviv University (TAU), Bar-Ilan University, the University of Haifa, The Open University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Israel's seven research universities (excluding the Open University) are consistently ranked among top 500 in the world. Israel ranks third in the world in the number of academic degrees per capita (20 percent of the population). Israel has produced five Nobel Prize-winning scientists since 2002 and publishes among the most scientific papers per capita of any country in the world.
Israel leads world in stem cell research papers per capita since 2000. In addition, Israeli universities are among 100 top world universities in mathematics (TAU, Hebrew University and Technion), physics (TAU, Hebrew University and Weizmann Institute of Science), chemistry (TAU, Hebrew University and Technion), computer science (TAU, Hebrew University, Weizmann Institute of Science, BIU and Technion) and economics (TAU and Hebrew University).
In 2009 Israel was ranked 2nd among 20 top countries in space sciences by Thomson Reuters agency. Since 1988 Israel Aerospace Industries have indigenously designed and built at least 13 commercial, research and spy satellites. Most were launched to orbit from Israeli air force base "Palmachim" by the Shavit space launch vehicle. Some of Israel's satellites are ranked among the world's most advanced space systems. In 2003, Ilan Ramon became Israel's first astronaut, serving as payload specialist of STS-107, the fatal mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia.