At 19.24 Swedish time on 21 November 2000, IRF’s “nano-satellite” Munin was launched with a Delta-2 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA. The launch was sponsored by the American space agency NASA.

Munin was partly a research satellite for studies of the aurora and the Earth’s radiation belts, and partly a technology development project to study how to minimize the size of satellites and instruments.

In addition, Munin was used for educational purposes in space engineering courses conducted by Umeå University and Luleå University of Technology in Kiruna.

Munin. Vibration test. Photo: IRF

The satellite was equipped with an instrument for studying the particles that give rise to the aurora, another to study the energetic particles in the Earth’s radiation belts (which can damage satellites), as well as a camera for studying the aurora.

The instruments on Munin were:

  • MEDUSA (Miniaturized Electrostatic DUAL-TOP HAT Spherical Analyzer), a combined electron and ion spectrometer developed by the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, USA.
  • DINA (Detector of Ions and Neutral Atoms), a neutral particle detector.
  • Connectix Quickcam
  • Magnetometer

Munin was placed in a polar orbit around the Earth (perpendicular to the equator), with a peak height of 1811 km, a minimum height of 698 km and an orbit time of 111 minutes. Data reception was from a ground station at IRF in Kiruna.

Nanosatellite is the name for satellites weighing less than ten kilograms. Normally, satellites weigh from a few hundred kilograms to several tons. Munin weighed only six kg and was thus the smallest research satellite ever. The advantage of small satellites is that the costs can be kept low and that the satellite can be launched as a so-called “piggy-back”.

In Munin’s case, NASA was launching two large satellites, and Munin could be launched for free on the same rocket. Small satellites can often also be developed in a short period of time, for example to test a new instrument before it is put into operation on a large and much more expensive satellite.

The following people had responsibility for the Munin project:

Olle Norberg, Project Manager, IRF.
Walter Puccio, Technical Project Manager, IRF.


Created by Annelie Klint Nilsson at

Last modified by Annelie Klint Nilsson at