Astrid – 1 (PIPPI, MIO, EMIL)
Astrid-1 was launched on 24 January 1995 from Plesetsk in Russia and was groundbreaking as the first Swedish micro-satellite project. The satellite weighed 27 kg.
The satellite studied processes that cause aurora, but instead of investigating charged particles, the measurements for the first time ever focused on detecting neutral particles, atoms and molecules, and studying how they behave in the auroral region.
The payload, designed and built by IRF, consisted of three experiments:·
- PIPPI (Pioneers in Planetary Particle Imaging), a neutral particle imager that measured energetic neutral particles (ENAs) in the Earth’s magnetosphere. It was the first time ever such an instrument flew on a satellite.
- MIO (Miniature Imaging Optics), a small camera for imaging the aurora in ultraviolet light.
- EMIL (Electron Measurements – In-situ and Lightweight), an electron spectrometer or detector for electrons.
The Swedish Space Corporation developed and built Astrid-1 on behalf of the Swedish National Space Board (now the Swedish National Space Agency). At the end of September 1995, contact with the satellite was lost, but the instruments had already ceased functioning in early March. Despite the short operation time, the scientists had obtained a large amount of data. Astrid-1 was controlled from Esrange Space Center, but IRF in Kiruna had its own small groundstation called “Snickerboa” (“The Tool Shed”) to upload commands to the instruments.
Astrid-1 made the first ever ENA measurements in the inner magnetosphere, with the result that IRF became a world leader in this field of research. These successes opened the way for IRF to also fly ENA instruments to other planets.