The Swedish government has agreed to finance the construction and launch of a 50-kilogram satellite into low Earth orbit to conduct optical studies of mesospheric gases for two years, the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) said 22 October.
The Mats, or Mesospheric Airglow/Aerosol Tomography and Spectroscopy, satellite program has been allocated 120 million Swedish krona ($16.7 million) in funding, with a launch planned around 2017.
The 50-kilogram Mats will use optical instruments to study luminescent phenomena occurring, especially in the summer months, at altitudes of 80-100 kilometres. The satellite will operate from about 600 kilometres in orbit. The two-year operating life will permit Mats to study two full summers in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
SNSB approved the project following a detailed project study by OHB Sweden, Stockholm University’s Department of Meteorology, Omnisys Instruments and AAC Microtec.