"The satellite Ofek 5, which was in space for many years and supplied good intelligence, just started spattering and provided pictures in rapidly deteriorating quality until they were nearly unusable," said Shai Gilboa, former commander of the satellite's development team in the Defense Ministry and currently the head of the Jerusalem College of Technology.
All attempts to even understand the problem failed, he said.
While the experts pondered the problem, Maj. Yanki (whose full name remains confidential,) fresh out of the academic reserves of the Israeli military, suggested the fault was due to erosion in the satellite's cameras caused by temperature variations in space, and developed a mathematical model for necessary focus changes.
"In retrospect, it was found out he understood way more than [the experts] did," Gilboa told YnetNews.
The theory was presented to the Defense Ministry directors and they were convinced to try and change the cameras' focus from the ground, which proved successful.
"To our surprise, it fixed the camera," Gilboa said, noting that it saved the defense ministry $137 million.
The events occurred a few years ago but were only revealed Wednesday when Major Yanki was honored in a ceremony for Jerusalem College of Technology's graduates, Ynetnews reported.