February 24, 2017


Originally designed for a two-year mission to study Earth’s atmosphere and celestial bodies like newly forming stars, the Odin satellite is still going strong years after its launch.

ODIN is a Swedish minisatellite developed in partnership with Canada, Finland and France. Launched in February 2001 by a Russian Start-1 vehicle, ODIN spent 6 years devoting half of its observation time to studying the composition of Earth’s atmosphere and the other half to newly forming stars, interstellar clouds, galaxies and comets. Since 2007, the satellite has focused exclusively on aeronomy missions, with ESA funding climatology studies in particular.

The small satellite is carrying a Sub-Millimetre wave Radiometer (SMR), operating in tandem with an acousto-optical spectrometer (SAO), and an optical spectrometer (OSIRIS - Optical Spectrograph and InfraRed Imaging System). The SAO instrument was developed in France by the LAM astrophysics laboratory in Marseille as prime contractor, with the IRAP astrophysics and planetology research institute (formerly CESR) and the ARPEGES radioastronomy department at the Meudon observatory. With these instruments, ODIN is able to detect the signature of key molecules such as water vapour, oxygen, ozone and carbon monoxide.

ODIN’s aeronomy mission, meanwhile, has observed the geographic distribution of carbon monoxide and water vapour in our atmosphere, as well as the impact of polar vortices on the ozone layer. And in astronomy, ODIN has precisely measured the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere of Mars and detected water in 10 comets and numerous galactic sources.