Press Release

Eight years in orbit for Swedish research satellite – unique observations and international support extends Odin operations

By SpaceRef Editor
February 23, 2009
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The Swedish atmospheric research and astronomy satellite Odin celebrated eight years in orbit (on Friday 20 February) and the value of its observations keeps increasing. Recent theses have given new insight into couplings between noctilucent clouds in the northern hemisphere and the ozone hole in the southern, and into water vapour abundance and transport processes in the upper atmosphere.

– Before Odin there were no water vapour data from 80 km altitude and above and no polar coverage in the upper atmosphere. Odin is the benchmark for measurements over the polar winter hemisphere, says Dr. Dan Marsh, atmosphere scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. Odin can also show a unique set of high-vertical resolution observations of the ozone layer, since 2001.

Originally a dual discipline satellite, Odin astronomy observations have essentially been ended. Among many interesting achievements, the detection of molecular oxygen in the outer space of our galaxy was a scientific first. The low abundance of the molecule in star forming regions has led to major rethinking regarding chemical models and the large variations in water vapour also observed by Odin. This is also of importance for the oxygen and water observations to be made with the new large ESA mission Herschel, to be launched in April, where Odin astronomers are now focussing their efforts.

So far Odin has resulted in some 50 theses in the four partner countries, Sweden, Canada, France, and Finland, and many more scientific articles. The Odin results are widely acknowledged, and ESA has included the mission in its Earthnet programme, thereby contributing to the operations. These will be continued also through 2009, as decided by the Swedish National Space Board. The satellite is still in excellent shape and there is presently nothing known that would prevent observations during a few additional years. Atmospheric scientists dream about measuring during an entire solar cycle, about 11 years.

– We cannot guarantee that of course, says Dr. Urban Frisk, Mission Manager at Swedish Space Corporation. But we will try our best in order to try to make it possible!

Point of contacts:

Atmospheric research: Professor Donal Murtagh, Chalmers, Gothenburg E-mail: Tel.: +46 31-772 5651

Astronomy: Prof. Em. Ake Hjalmarson, Onsala Space Observatory E-mail: Tel.: +46 31-772 5536 (secretary. 772 5501)

Project Development: Fredrik v. Scheele, Swedish Space Corporation, E-mail: Tel.: +46 8-627 6316

SpaceRef staff editor.