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Satellite Missions Catalogue

Odin Satellite

Last updated:Jun 8, 2012







Atmospheric Temperature Fields


Launched in February 2001, Odin is an aeronomy and astronomy minisatellite developed by Sweden, in partnership with the space agencies of Canada, Finland and France. The satellite has studied atmospheric processes for over 20 years, far exceeding its design life of two years.

Quick facts


Mission typeEO
Mission statusOperational (extended)
Launch date20 Feb 2001
Measurement domainAtmosphere
Measurement categoryAtmospheric Temperature Fields, Aerosols, Atmospheric Humidity Fields, Ozone, Trace gases (excluding ozone)
Measurement detailedAerosol absorption optical depth (column/profile), Aerosol Extinction / Backscatter (column/profile), Atmospheric specific humidity (column/profile), O3 Mole Fraction, Atmospheric temperature (column/profile), N2O (column/profile), HNO3 (column/profile), NO2 Mole Fraction, BrO (column/profile), CO Mole Fraction, ClO (column/profile)
InstrumentsOSIRIS, SMR
Instrument typeAtmospheric chemistry
CEOS EO HandbookSee Odin Satellite summary

Related Resources

odin satellite
Odin satellite (Image credit: ESA)


Mission Capabilities

Odin features two sensors, a Submillimeter wave Radiometer (SMR) and an Optical Spectrograph and Infrared Imaging System (OSIRIS), which work together to measure atmospheric composition. SMR is a passive microwave limb sounder, developed by Sweden (in cooperation with Finland and France), that detects molecular transitions of aeronomical and astronomical interest. The instrument has a wide spectral coverage permitting extragalactic observations, molecular searches and unbiased scans. OSIRIS is a Canadian dual-purpose ultraviolet, visible and infrared (UV/VIS/IR) limb sounder that detects aerosol layers and retrieves altitude profiles of terrestrial atmospheric chemical species. The UV/VIS optical spectrograph measures minor species in the altitude range of 15 - 80 km, and has a pointing direction aligned with SMR boresight. The IR imager consists of three infrared telescopes operating at 1263, 1273 and 1530 nm, pointed in the orbit plane. The field of view (FOV) of the UV/VIS imaging spectrograph and IR imager channels are aligned (and co-aligned with SMR) to produce simultaneous measurements.

Performance Specifications

Odin’s OSIRIS UV/VIS spectrograph has a spatial resolution of 1 km at the limb, a wavelength range of 280 - 800 nm and a FOV corresponding to 1 km (vertical) x 40 km (horizontal) on Earth. The IR imager has a spatial resolution of 1 km in the vertical direction, bandwidth (FWDM) of 10 nm and 40 nm, and a FOV of 118 km (vertical) x 2 km (horizontal). The long duration and consistent quality of measurements from OSIRIS are internationally recognised and used to validate climate models worldwide.

The satellite is in a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 570 km, inclined at 97.77 degrees and has an orbital period of 97.6 minutes.  In early 2009 the orbit of the spacecraft decayed from 610 km to 570 km.

Space and Hardware Components

The spacecraft has an aluminium honeycomb structure with carbon reinforced plastic for the reflector support structure. Odin is three-axis-stabilised and its attitude is sensed by sun sensors, gyroscopes, star trackers and magnetometers. The 250 kg spacecraft features a radio antenna dish with one of the most precise reflecting surfaces in the world for its application.

As of 2022, the craft is still operational with both instruments working. A contributor to Odin’s long life is having no orbit control thanks to its sun-synchronous orbit that develops with time, resulting in no consumables needed on board.

In May 2007 Odin’s astronomy mission was retired, devoting the mission to aeronomy observations. The satellite could now continuously remain in scanning mode, permitting more atmospheric observations. In 2007, Odin became an ESA third party mission (TPM), enabling the distribution of data products from the mission, in return for funding to continue operations.


Spacecraft    Launch    Mission Status    Sensor Complement    References

Odin is an international aeronomy and astronomy minisatellite mission led by Sweden, with Canada, France, and Finland as partners. The project is carried out and funded jointly by the space agencies of Sweden [SNSB (Swedish National Space Board)], Canada [CSA (Canadian Space Agency) and NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council)], Finland [TEKES (National Technology Agency of Finland)], and France (CNES). The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) is responsible for spacecraft system design and development. SSC provides also spacecraft operations (the operations centre of SSC is located at Esrange; the latitude of 68º provides excellent visibility for polar orbiting satellites).

- The Odin satellite is named after the god Odin - ruler of the Old Norse deities. 1) 2)

Odin satellite mission objectives:

Astronomy and aeronomy applications (atmospheric research: observation of stratospheric ozone chemistry, mesospheric ozone science, summer mesospheric science, coupling of atmospheric regions). The Odin satellite is an observatory in mm/sub-mm wave spectroscopy. Measurements in the wavelengths of 0.5 - 0.6 mm and 2.5 mm. These contain emission lines from molecules such as water vapor, molecular oxygen, ozone and carbon monoxide which are important for the study of atmospheric processes as well as for the study of astronomical objects. Complementary information on the Earth's atmosphere comes from spectral lines at UV and VIS wavelengths. The astronomy objectives and major scientific issues related to star formation processes, interstellar chemistry and atmospheric ozone balance.

When the Odin project was still in its initial stages, atmospheric researchers discovered that they could use the same instruments to take readings of the Earth's atmosphere as astronomers use to study space. Hence, both categories of scientists - aeronomers and astronomers - started working together and cooperation on Odin began. In the Odin project, the aeronomers are mostly interested in water, chlorine monoxide and ozone distributions. The astronomers are mainly interested in water molecules and oxygen molecules (O2) in space (observations of line emission from interstellar H2O and O2).

Figure 1: Artist's rendition of the Odin spacecraft in orbit (image credit: SNSB)
Figure 1: Artist's rendition of the Odin spacecraft in orbit (image credit: SNSB)


The S/C structure is of aluminium honeycomb with carbon-reinforced plastic for the reflector support structure. Odin is three-axis-stabilized (zero momentum system); attitude is sensed by: 3 coarse and 2 fine sun sensors, 3 gyros, 2-star trackers, and two 3-axis magnetometers; the actuators include three orthogonal reaction wheels with one redundant unit and three magnetic torquers. The star trackers were initially used in the French Sigma experiment and subsequently used for the HELIOS-A spacecraft (a European military optical reconnaissance satellite project, launched July 7, 1995). The OSU (Odin System Unit) provides onboard data handling functions (TT&C, coding/decoding, data storage, battery storage, redundancy switching, etc.). 3) 4)

Odin spacecraft mass = 250 kg (80 kg payload); size: 2.0 m height, 1.1 m width stored and 3.8 m in flight configuration; power = 300 W from deployable fixed solar arrays, during eclipse Odin is powered by 6 Ah NiCd batteries; cooling: closed Stirling cycle coolers; the pointing accuracy is ±15 arcsec in staring mode, ±1.2 arcmin in scanning mode. The S/C employs the body-pointing technique to look in various directions. The mission design life was 2 years.

Operating modes: For aeronomy the spacecraft follows the Earth's limb, scanning the atmosphere up and down from 15 km to 120 km at a rate of up to 40 scans per orbit. When observing astronomical sources Odin continuously points towards the object for up to 60 minutes. Both payload sensors point in the same direction.

RF communications:

S-band at 720 kbit/s to the Esrange tracking station (Sweden); onboard storage >100 MByte in solid state memory.

Odin operations are conducted by SSC. The Esrange tracking station receives 10 passes per day. The Odin Control Center (OCC) is located at Esrange. The Odin Mission Control Center (MCC) is in Solna, Sweden. Operations are carried out on a 24-hour basis, partly automatic and manned during office hours only, including the satellite command and control functions. Operationally, there is a time-sharing principle of about 50/50 between SMR and OSIRIS observations.

Figure 2: Illustration of the deployed Odin spacecraft (image credit: SSC)
Figure 2: Illustration of the deployed Odin spacecraft (image credit: SSC)


The Odin satellite was launched on Feb. 20, 2001, on a Russian Start-1 launch vehicle from the Svobodny Cosmodrome, in far-eastern Russia. 5) 6)


Sun-synchronous polar orbit; altitude = 600 km; inclination = 97.77º; with an ascending node at 18:00 hrs (dawn/dusk orbit); period = 97.6 minutes. This ensures maximum power to the satellite and also provides a stable thermal environment since eclipses only occur for a restricted period during the year (around the northern hemisphere summer solstice).

Autonomy functions implemented: 7)

• Spacecraft protection: Odin is fragile since the telescope is not allowed to be sunlit for longer periods. An umbrella is mounted between the solar panels to shadow the platform. This umbrella shield will only do its task as long as the satellite is correctly oriented versus the sun. The ACDC (Attitude Control and Determination Computer) therefore has a solar angle constraint of 32º to handle. If this constraint is exceeded, the computer will bring the satellite to safe mode obtaining a very small solar aspect angle.

• In order to avoid battery overcharge, the batteries are charged until either their voltages reach a predefined value, or a certain amount of amp-hours has been provided in relation to what was taken out of the batteries.

• An automatic decrease in power consumption is implemented to be used if battery status indicates a problem.

• Management of momentum dump by decreasing the speed of the reaction wheels is automatically initiated using magnetorquers.

• The cryogenic cooler is used to bring down the temperature of payload Schottky mixers and HEMT low noise amplifiers. Temperatures as low as 120 to 160 K are achieved by improving the noise temperature. The cooler itself may not be too warm. Therefore, if a simple threshold value is exceeded, the cooler will be commanded to a predefined lower working point in order to decrease its temperature.

• A change of used command receiver and demodulator chain after 36 hours without any command reception is implemented for important but obvious reasons.

• Functions for conducting measurements all around the orbit.

Figure 3: Schematic view of Odin spacecraft elements (image credit: SSC)
Figure 3: Schematic view of Odin spacecraft elements (image credit: SSC)
Figure 4: The Odin spacecraft and observational configuration schemes (image credit: SSC)
Figure 4: The Odin spacecraft and observational configuration schemes (image credit: SSC)
Figure 5: The Odin CFRP main reflector with sub reflector can be seen mounted on the CFRP support structure that also holds the star tracker optical heads (image credit: SSC)
Figure 5: The Odin CFRP main reflector with sub reflector can be seen mounted on the CFRP support structure that also holds the star tracker optical heads (image credit: SSC)



Mission Status

• February 2, 2022: The Odin saga continues - after 21 years on orbit. The satellite status is fine having both instruments working. The project remains within ESA's Third Party Mission programme and OHB Sweden is again contracted by the Swedish National Space Agency. Odin has made more than 114,000 orbits and there are more to come. 8)

• February 25, 2021: Following is an Odin summary (a collage of 10 self-explanatory images) made by CSA (Canadian Space Agency) on request from SNSA (Swedish National Space Agency), which gives a very nice overview of the Odin mission at its 20th on orbit anniversary on 20 February 2021 (Ref. 9).


• February 3, 2021: Odin is approaching its 20th anniversary in-orbit which will occur on Feb 20. According to Stefan Lundin of OHB Sweden, both OHB Sweden, the satellites operator on behalf of SNSA, and SSC, the company conducting every day handling of the satellite, are on contract for the whole year of 2021. 9)

Figure 6: An overview of the Odin mission. ESA register all users of Odin data. The statistics are from an Odin Science Team meeting in Oct 2020. Odin has made more than 100,000 orbits during 19 years, and 357 publications were written by 1076 authors from 275 institutes in 31 different countries. It proves that Odin data is very well used (image credit: ESA)
Figure 6: An overview of the Odin mission. ESA register all users of Odin data. The statistics are from an Odin Science Team meeting in Oct 2020. Odin has made more than 100,000 orbits during 19 years, and 357 publications were written by 1076 authors from 275 institutes in 31 different countries. It proves that Odin data is very well used (image credit: ESA)

• January 30, 2020: According to Stefan Lundin of OHB-Sweden, Odin is in good shape continuing to do precise aeronomy measurements. We just recently received the go-ahead for Odin operation 2020 from the Swedish space board (Ref. 10). On 20 February, the Odin spacecraft will be 19 years on orbit.

• January 29, 2019: Odin is doing fine, conducting aeronomy as usual. The satellite is approaching its 18th on-orbit anniversary in February and has so far orbited the Earth more than 98,000 times. We believe we are the second oldest ESA TPM (Third Party Mission) member still operational. Only Landsat-7 is older (Ref. 10).

- A telescope and an OSIRIS slit alignment measurement campaign will start on February 22. We expect no dramatic change at all.

• April 18, 2018: OHB Sweden has since late February achieved the contract to operate the Odin satellite also during 2018. The satellite works fine and has just got its two batteries exercised ahead of the eclipse season. The orbital elements developed according to expectations and we are looking forward to the summer in good faith. 10)

• December 5, 2017: From February 23 to April 1, 2017, a group of eight researchers was collecting data on atmospheric conditions from the PEARL (Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory) facilities in Nunavut. These measurements, taken with state-of-the-art instruments installed on the ground and aboard balloons, are used to validate data from Canadian instruments on the SCISAT/ACE and Odin satellites. The 2017 validation campaign is supported by CSA (Canadian Space Agency), Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Northern Scientific Training Program. 11)

- The Odin satellite was launched in February 2001 from Svobodny, in eastern Siberia. Originally planned for a two-year mission, it continues to orbit 600 km above Earth, collecting measurements that are extremely valuable for studying climate and long-term changes in the atmosphere. The Odin mission is operational in 2018.

- Canada's OSIRIS (Optical Spectrograph and InfraRed Imaging System) is the optical payload on Sweden's Odin satellite. It works in synergy with Sweden's advanced radiometer and measures atmospheric composition.

- Since 2001, OSIRIS has obtained valuable information on the upper atmosphere. It focuses its attention on altitudes from 7 to 90 km—between the highest mountains and the edge of space—and measures concentrations of ozone, aerosols and nitrogen dioxide.

Figure 7: A multi-institutional arctic campaign was conducted in 2017 to validate the data of the Odin and SciSat missions (image credit: CSA)
Figure 7: A multi-institutional arctic campaign was conducted in 2017 to validate the data of the Odin and SciSat missions (image credit: CSA)

• On Feb. 20, 2016, the Swedish-led Odin minisatellite mission completed 15 years on orbit and continues to scan the Earth's atmosphere. Since 2008, the satellite is also part of ESA's Third Party Mission fleet. Odin is currently in good shape and continues collecting important atmospheric data. 12)

- Canada's OSIRIS (Optical Spectrograph and InfraRed Imaging System) is the optical payload on Sweden's Odin satellite. It works in synergy with Sweden's advanced radiometer SMR (Sub-Millimeterwave Radiometer), and measures atmospheric composition. The OSIRIS instrument has been measuring and mapping ozone and detecting aerosols and nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere since 2001—longer than any other currently operational space instrument. The long duration and consistent quality of OSIRIS measurements are internationally recognized and used to validate and improve climate models worldwide. The resulting datasets have historical value and play an important role in international efforts like the ESA Climate Change Initiative and are used in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) ozone reports. 13)

Figure 8: Typical seasonal variations of ozone concentration over the South Pole. The left image shows higher concentrations of ozone in February 2015, and the right image shows very low ozone concentrations, the "ozone hole," in October 2015 (image credit: Canadian Space Agency, University of Saskatchewan)
Figure 8: Typical seasonal variations of ozone concentration over the South Pole. The left image shows higher concentrations of ozone in February 2015, and the right image shows very low ozone concentrations, the "ozone hole," in October 2015 (image credit: Canadian Space Agency, University of Saskatchewan)

• On Feb. 20, 2015, the Odin mission celebrated its fourteenth anniversary on orbit (design life of 2 years). Odin is a joint mission of Sweden, Canada, France and Finland, through their respective space agencies. ESA supports the Odin mission as one of its Third Party Missions, which enables ESA to distribute data from the mission under an agreement with the satellite owners. 14)

• The Odin spacecraft and its payload are operating nominally in 2014 (13 years on orbit as of Feb. 20, 2014). 15)

The Odin SMR (Sub-Millimeter Radiometer) instrument continues to produce profiles of chemical species relevant to understanding the middle and upper atmosphere. The long-term observation of stratospheric ozone can be useful for trend analysis of chemical ozone loss. 16)

• The Odin spacecraft is operating nominally in the summer of 2013, performing measurements of the OSIRIS instrument >12 years after the launch. 17) 18)

• On Feb. 20, 2012, the Odin spacecraft is 11 years on orbit. After > 60,000 orbits, the satellite still delivers valuable scientific data. 19) 20)

• In early 2012, the Odin spacecraft is operating nominally (both payloads are still working properly and the platform is doing very well). The project has new contracts (from SNSB and ESA) for 2012 to continue spacecraft operations. Odin is a "third party mission" of ESA since 2007. 21)

- From an organizational point of view, the Odin mission is now operated by three companies: SSC, OHB-Sweden and OMNISYS. This is due to the fact that the former Space division of SSC was sold to OHB System in July 2011. Still, the same people are involved. Odin operations are still handled from the radar hill of Esrange, and Odin Mission Control is still located in Stockholm.

• In the fall of 2011, the Odin mission is over 10 years on-orbit (with > 55,000 orbit revolutions in this time period). The main interest is in the atmosphere science mission and the satellite is now in a continuous atmosphere observation mode, interrupted only for calibrations and observations of occasional comets and other irregularly occurring astronomical objects. Routines have settled and the behaviour of the spacecraft is well known. Operations are now performed by a minimum of staff validating, monitoring and commanding the satellite. 22)

Odin has outperformed its design lifetime by a factor of five. Scientists are now hoping that Odin will collect atmospheric data continuously over a full solar cycle. After ten years, Odin has to be operated more carefully but this has little impact on the quality of scientific data. Occasional hiccups occur but these are efficiently analyzed and problems are resolved by a team of engineers that can be called in on short notice.

- Why has Odin survived that long? A major contributor to the long life of Odin is that it does not have any orbit control and hereby does not carry any consumables on board. Orbit control is a cost in money and spacecraft mass. Odin was launched into a certain sun-synchronous orbit which keeps on developing as time goes by.

- Odin scientists have recently expressed their wish to cover a whole solar cycle. Nothing speaks against this although no promises of course could be given. The fact that the solar cycle 24 was delayed was originally regarded as a good sign as it caused very little orbit decay. On the other hand: the longer cycle the harder to cover it all!

- In 2007 it was decided that further cost savings still were required. The astronomers had covered most of their targets to an extent that additional observation and integration no longer were worth the job. Preparations for Herschel had started and quite a few of the astronomers moved into that project. Hence, Odin became a pure aeronomy satellite which illustrated the importance of not making too many scheduled changes in-orbit. Although aeronomy is demanding data-wise, it became so much easier to operate a satellite servicing only one discipline. As a consequence, the payload reconfigurations became rare events - instead of almost every day in the previous period; this meant less planning and fewer incidents. Another positive effect was that it opened up new financial possibilities, in the form of an ESA TPM (Third Party Mission)!

- Only one platform redundancy was taken into usage: Odin has lost only one platform unit, the reaction wheel No 2. It happened in May 2007 exactly when the wheel did change its rotation direction. After the loss of the spacecraft attitude, the problem could fairly quickly be identified by the Odin Control Center and by the Odin Mission Control. One restart attempt was conducted and when the result was unsuccessful, the project switched to the redundant wheel. The satellite itself had only limited attitude control for approximately one night. Despite this incident, all other platform units are working "nominally" as of fall 2011. Not a single reboot of the OBC has occurred since the launch of the spacecraft - for an on-orbit life of > 10.5 years, this is a record in itself.

• The Odin spacecraft is operating nominally as of 2010. The mission completed 9 years in orbit on Feb. 20, 2010. Prior to 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. 23) 24) 25)

The solar panels are delivering more current than expected, the batteries have been cycled many more times than planned and the platform and payload redundancy remains with two exceptions: the redundant reaction wheel had to be taken into usage in April 2007 and the 119 GHz receiver has drifted away from its intended frequency. - The orbit of the spacecraft has decayed from the initial orbital altitude of 610 km to ~580 km in early 2009. During 2009 and 2010, an increase in the sun's activity is expected; consequently orbit decay will increase.

• The Odin mission is operating nominally as of 2008 providing high-quality spectroscopy data in the optical, mm and sub-mm regions. Odin was designed for a two-year mission and has now outlived the design goal lifetime by five years.

• As of January 2008, SSC has been commissioned by the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) to control and operate the scientific satellite Odin an additional year, until December 2008.26)

• In the summer of 2007, Odin was added as an ESA "third party mission". This involved some funding to continue the operations of the mission for the science community. ESA received in return access to all data products from Odin (hence, a larger user community started to use Odin data products). In May 2007, it was also decided to retire Odin's astronomy mission and to devote the rest of the mission time entirely to aeronomy observations only. 27)

• As of 2006, the Odin satellite's mission continues, now in its sixth year. The mission operator, SSC, has a contract for Odin operations until April 30, 2007. However, it is expected that the mission will continue beyond this date as the platform and payload still remain intact. 28) 29) 30) 31)

• The Odin spacecraft and its instruments operated nominally during its projected mission life of two years. In May 2003, the Odin mission was extended. 32) 33)

• The first scientific observations were made in April 2001 of water emission at 556.936 GHz of the newly discovered comet 2001-A1 LINEAR. Full scientific operation with interleaved astronomy and aeronomy observations was started in October 2001.



Sensor Complement

SMR (Submillimeter wave Radiometer)

SMR is a Swedish instrument in cooperation with Finland (119 GHz channel), and France, (provision of the AOS (Acousto-Optic Spectrometer) detector). SMR is a passive microwave limb sounder with one receiver at a wavelength of 3 mm and additional four bands within the submillimeter range (0.5 - 1.0 mm) corresponding to a frequency range of 486 - 580 GHz. Antenna reflector type: offset Gregorian telescope [off-axis system, 1.1 m diameter, surface roughness: 10 µm rms, material: carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP)]. SMR is used in astronomy as well as in the atmospheric research mission to detect molecular transitions.

The signal coming from the telescope is routed to the receivers, split and filtered by optics consisting of combinations of mirrors, grids and meshes. Diplexers and sideband filters are based on tunable polarizing Michelson interferometers. The SMR telescope is being equipped with a very flexible cryogenic sub-mm receiver package (cooling to -175º C). The frequency range of 541-581 GHz is covered by three Schottky mixers and a fourth Schottky mixer covers the band 486-504 GHz. A 119 GHz fix-tuned HEMT preamplifier has been installed to allow very sensitive searches for interstellar O2. All receivers are operated in single-sideband mode. 34) 35) 36) 37)

Figure 9: Illustration of the SMR instrument (image credit: SSC)
Figure 9: Illustration of the SMR instrument (image credit: SSC)

The five single-sideband heterodyne receivers in SMR are continuously switched between a reference source of known signal strength and the signal from the telescope (Dicke switch). The telescope is periodically targeted towards well-known celestial objects. These procedures ensure both stability and good calibration.

Spectral lines: The SMR instrument covers transitions of aeronomical interest from the following molecules: ClO, CO, NO2, N2O, H2O2, HO2, H2O, H218O, NO, HNO3, O3, and O2; and atomic and molecular transitions of astrophysical interest from: Cl, H218O, H2O, H2S, NH3, H2CO, O2, CS, 13CO, H2CS, SO, SO2


Single sideband heterodyne receivers (use of InP material),


118.25 - 119.25 GHz, 486.1 - 503.9 GHz, 541 - 580.4 GHz


100 MHz to 1 GHz


0.1 MHz to 1 MHz


1 K in 1 MHz with S/N = 5 after 15 minutes


Cooled Schottky mixers

Local Oscillators

LO based on Gunn diodes and frequency multipliers


Cooled HEMT low-noise amplifiers


two hybrid autocorrelators and one AOS (Acousto-Optic Spectrometer)

Table 1: Specification parameters of SMR
Figure 10: Coverage of species observed by Odin instruments (image credit: SSC)
Figure 10: Coverage of species observed by Odin instruments (image credit: SSC)

During the extended development phase, it was evident that the O2 abundance must be considerably lower than theoretically expected. To address this sensitivity problem, a low-noise HEMT preamplifier at 119 GHz was added to the already rather complicated, cryocooled sub-millimetre radiometer system. The Odin O2 search sensitivity in this way was improved by more than an order of magnitude allowing for the first time molecular oxygen to be detected in the interstellar medium. The wide spectral coverage of the Odin radiometer permits extragalactic observations, molecular searches and unbiased spectral scans. Thus, Odin is addressing many of the scientific issues to be studied later in greater detail by the forthcoming Herschel/HIFI.

Figure 11: Block diagram of the SMR instrument (image credit: SNSB, SSC)
Figure 11: Block diagram of the SMR instrument (image credit: SNSB, SSC)

Technology: Odin's radio antenna dish has, in fact, the most precise reflecting surface in the world for its particular application. An entirely new tool has been developed to produce dish antennas with such an accurate surface. The same technology has already been used again to make a large antenna for Sirius - a new European telecommunications satellite.


OSIRIS (Optical Spectrograph and Infrared Imaging System)

OSIRIS is a Canadian sensor (CSA, NSERC) built by Routes AstroEngineering Ltd. of Ottawa, Ontario. OSIRIS has a dual-purpose objective of detecting aerosol layers and detecting abundances of species such as O3, NO2, OClO, and BrO (retrieval of altitude profiles of terrestrial atmospheric minor species by observing limb-radiance profiles).

The instrument is a UV/VIS/IR limb sounder, in effect a double instrument, mounted in a common optical housing and supported by common electronics. The UV/VIS imaging spectrograph uses compact reflective optics (off-axis system, folded design, aperture = 36 mm x 36 mm) and an aspherical ruled grating along with UV-enhanced CCD arrays.

The IR imager consists of three infrared telescopes (co-aligned single-lens imagers operating at 1263, 1273, and 1530 nm). The CCD detector, a 1353 x 286 array, is operated in a frame transfer MPP (Multi-Pin-Phase) mode with only 32 rows of the imaging section of the array illuminated by the slit image. Radiation detected outside the slit image provides information on the internal scattering properties of the spectrograph. The detector is passively cooled through a radiator. As OSIRIS is pointed at the limb, the entrance slit to the spectrograph subtends a region 30 km long by 1 km high. Scattered light has been reduced through the use of a beam-fold mirror that is located between the telescope mirror and the entrance slit.

The optical spectrograph (grating spectrometer type) measures species in the altitude range from 15 to 80 km (measurement of atmospheric airglow as well as utilization of the DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy) technique on scattered and subsequently absorbed moonlight). The FOV of the UV/VIS and the IR channels are aligned (and co-aligned with SMR) to produce simultaneous measurements. Instrument mass = 12 kg, power=20W. On-orbit spectral calibration for the UV/VIS instrument is done by observing artificial sources emanating from the Earth, such as discrete lines produced by mercury and sodium street lights. Radiometric calibration is not provided internally. For the IR imager, the IR shutter assembly contains a built-in incandescent lamp providing the radiometric calibration signal.38) 39) 40) 41) 42) 43)

Figure 12: Illustration of the OSIRIS instrument (image credit: University of Saskatchewan, CSA)
Figure 12: Illustration of the OSIRIS instrument (image credit: University of Saskatchewan, CSA)

UV/VIS Spectrograph


280 - 800 nm

Wavelength resolution

1 nm from 300-450 nm, < 2nm from 450-800 nm

Slit orientation

perpendicular to the orbit plane (horizontal)


0.02º (vertical) x 0.75º (horizontal) corresponding to 1 km x 40 km on Earth

Spatial resolution

1 km at the limb

Pointing direction

aligned with SMR boresight

AD converter

14 bit

Detector type

Si CCD array (1353 x 286 pixels)

Species to be detected

O3, NO2, BrO, OCLO, O2, aerosols

IR Imager

Bandpass filter center wavelengths

1.263 µm, 1.273 µm, 1.520 µm

Bandwidth (FWHM)

10 nm (1.263 and 1.273), 40 nm (1.520)


118 km (vertical) x 2 km (horizontal)

Spatial resolution

1 km in the vertical direction

Telescope aperture

23 mm diameter

Detector type (linear arrays with hybrid multiplexers)

3 InGaAs, each detector has 128 pixels

Detector pointing direction

in the orbit plane (vertical)

Detector temperature

-40ºC (or less)

Temperature stability during exposure


Table 2: OSIRIS instrument specifications

The infrared imager part of OSIRIS employs 3 separate co-aligned single-lens imagers operating at 1263, 1273, and 1530 nm. The spectral regions are selected using interference filters and the imaging is achieved with one-dimensional InGaAs (128 pixel) linear arrays that are thermoelectrically cooled.

Figure 13: Schematic drawing of the OSIRIS instrument (image credit: Routes AstroEngineering)
Figure 13: Schematic drawing of the OSIRIS instrument (image credit: Routes AstroEngineering)

The OSIRIS data is processed both to levels 1 and 2 at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. The processed data is again stored at the PDC (Parallel Data Center) in Stockholm, Sweden.

The archive of the Odin mission is located at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

Processing institutes of the Odin mission are:

• Chalmers, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden

• Meteorological Institute at Stockholm University, Sweden

• Finnish Meteorological Institute, Sodankylää, Finland

• CNES, Toulouse, France

• Pierre Simon Laplace Institute (IPSL), Paris, France

• Observatory de Bordeaux, France

• the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

• York University, Toronto, Canada.



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2) F. von Schéele, "The Odin project-lessons for a follow-on earth observation mission," Acta Astronautica, Volume 53, Issues 4-10, August-November 2003, pp. 739-74

3) Alfred C. Ng, D. F. Golla, E. Harvey, "ODIN Attitude Control System Testing - An International Collaboration," 4th ESA International Conference on Spacecraft Guidance, Navigation and Control Systems, Oct. 18-21, 1999, pp. 71-76, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

4) S. Berge, O. Jirlow, P. Rathsman, F. v. Scheele, "Advanced Attitude Control on Swedish Small Satellite Odin," 48th International Astronautical Congress, October 6-10, 1997, Turin, Italy

5) F. v. Scheele, "Star Formation and Ozone Depletion: The Swedish ODIN Satellite to Eye Heaven and Earth," Nordic Space Activities, No. 5, 1994, pp. 44-46

6) "ODIN - A Small Satellite for Astronomy and Atmospheric Research," SSC/SNSB brochure

7) S. Lundin, "Finding the Balance between Autonomy On-board versus Man-triggered Actions from Ground," 53rd International Astronautical Congress The World Space Congress, 2002, Oct. 10-19, 2002, Houston, TX, USA

8) Information provided by Stefan Lundin of OHB Sweden.

9) Information provided by Stefan Lundin of OHB Sweden

10) Information provided by Stefan Lundin, OHB Sweden Project manager of the Odin satellite

11) "OSIRIS on Odin," CSA, 5 Dec. 2017, URL:

12) "Odin celebrates 15 years in orbit," ESA, Feb. 20, 2016, URL:

13) "OSIRIS on Odin - 15 years," CSA(Canadian Space Agency), Feb. 20, 2016, URL:

14) "Odin celebrates 14 years in orbit," ESA, Feb, 20, 2015, URL:

15) Information provided by Donal Murtagh of Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden.

16) Kazutoshi Sagi, Joachim Urban, Patrick Eriksson, Donal Murtagh, "Twelve years of arctic ozone loss observed by the Odin satellite," Proceedings of the ESA Living Planet Symposium, Edinburgh, UK, Sept. 9-13, 2013, SP-722, Dec. 2013.

17) Adam Bourassa, Landon Rieger, Doug Degenstien, "Stratospheric aerosol particle size information in Odin‐OSIRIS limb scatter spectra," 7th International Atmospheric Limb Conference and Workshop, Bremen, Germany, June 17‐19, 2013, URL:

18) "Odin, Mission Facts and Figures," ESA, URL:

19) "Swedish satellite Odin celebrates 11 years," SSC, Feb. 20, 2012, URL:

20) Doug Degenstein, "Odin-OSIRIS: A summary of the results for the past eleven years," roceedings of ATMOS 2012, Advances in Atmospheric Science and Applications, Bruges, Belgium, June 18-22, 2012, URL:

21) Information provided by Stefan Lundin of OHB-Sweden

22) Stefan Lundin, Stig-Ove Silverlind, Emil Vinterhav, "Odin – 10 years in-orbit: Outperforming the design lifetime with a factor of five," Proceedings of IAC 2011 (62nd International Astronautical Congress), Cape Town, South Africa, Oct. 3-7, 2011, paper: IAC-11-B4.3.12

23) "Nine years in orbit for the Swedish research satellite Odin," SSC, Feb. 22, 2010, URL:

24) Stefan Lundin, Stig-Ove Silverlind, "Satellite Odin supports one discipline only, to allow for additional autonomy on-board," Proceedings of the 59th IAC (International Astronautical Congress), Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, 2008, IAC-08-B4.3.2

25) "Eight Years in Orbit for Swedish Research Satellite - unique observations and international support extends Odin operations," SpaceRef, Feb. 23, 2009, URL:

26) "Odin Satellite Operations Prolonged," Jan. 24, 2008, Space Mart, URL:

27) M. Krynitz, "Odin - a new Third Party Mission," ESRIN GSCB Workshop, June 19, 2007, URL:

28) Information provided by Stefan Lundin of SSC

29) S. Lundin, S.-O. Silverlind, "Odin during year six, implementing additional autonomy in-orbit," Proceedings of AIAA SpaceOps Conference, Rome, Italy, June 19-23, 2006, AIAA 2006-5967

30) U. O. Frisk, Odin Team, "Odin - Now on its 6th year - long term experience," Proceedings of the 4S Symposium: `Small Satellite Systems and Services,' Chia Laguna Sardinia, Italy, Sept. 25-29, 2006, ESA SP-618

31) Stefan Lundin, Stig-Ole Silverlind, "Odin two years in-orbit, staying alive and continuously tuned-in," Acta Astronautica, Volume 59, Issue 6, September 2006, pp. 503-509

32) S. Lundin, S.-O. Silverlind, "Odin Two Years In-Orbit, Staying Alive and Continuously Tuned-In," Proceedings of 54th IAC, Bremen, Germany, Sept. 29 - Oct. 3, 2003

33) S. Lundin, S.-O. Silverlind, "Odin's third year in-orbit: normally smooth, occasionally dramatic," 55th IAC (International Astronautical Congress 2004, Vancouver, Canada, Oct. 2004, IAC-04-IAA-4.11.3-03

34) U. Frisk, M. Hagström, J. Ala-Laurinaho, S. Andersson, J.-C. Berges, J.-P. Chabaud, M. Dahlgren, A. Emrich, H.-G. Florén, G. Florin, M. Fredrixon, T. Gaier, R. Haas, T. Hirvonen, Å. Hjalmarsson, B. Jakobsson, P. Jukkala, P. S. Kildal, E. Kollberg, J. Lassing, A. Lecacheux, P. Lehikoinen, A. Lehto, J. Mallat, C. Marty, D. Michet, J. Narbonne, M. Nexon, M. Olberg, A. O. H. Olofsson, G. Olofsson, A. Origné, M. Petersson, P. Piironen, R. Pons, D. Pouliquen, I. Ristorcelli, C. Rosolen, G. Rouaix, A. V. Räisänen, G. Serra, F. Sjöberg, L. Stenmark, S. Torchinsky, J. Tuovinen, C. Ullberg, E. Vinterhav, N. Wadefalk, H. Zirath, P. Zimmermann, R. Zimmermann, "The Odin satellite: Radiometer design and test," Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol. 402, 2003, L27-L34, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030335


36) Donal Murtagh and the Odin Team, "The Odin Aeronomy Mission – an Update," URL:

37) H. L. Nordh, "Odin - An Astronomy/Aeronomy Satellite for Submm and mm Wavelengths," The Far Infrared and Submillimetre Universe. Edited by A. Wilson. Noordwijk, The Netherlands : ESA, 1997., p.195

38) "The Atmospheric Research Group at the University of Saskatchewan," URL:

39) E. J. Llewellyn, N. D. Lloyd, D. A. Degenstein, R. L. Gattinger, S. V. Petelina, A. E. Bourassa, J. T. Wiensz, E. V. Ivanov, I. C. McDade, B. H. Solheim, J. C. McConnell, C. S. Haley, C. von Savigny, C. E. Sioris, C. A. McLinden, E. Griffioen, J. Kaminski, W. F. J. Evans, E. Puckrin, K. Strong, V. Wehrle, R. H. Hum, D. J. W. Kendall, J. Matsushita, D. P. Murtagh, S. Brohede, J. Stegman, G. Witt, G. Barnes, W. F. Payne, L. Piché, K. Smith, G. Warshaw, D.-L. Deslauniers, P. Marchand, E. H. Richardson, R. A. King, I. Wevers, W. McCreath, E. Kyrölä, L. Oikarinen, G. W. Leppelmeier, H. Auvinen, G. Mégie, A. Hauchecorne, F. Lefèvre, J. de La Nöe, P. Ricaud, U. Frisk, F. Sjoberg, F. von Schéele, L. Nordh, "The OSIRIS instrument on the Odin spacecraft," Canadian Journal of Physics, Vol. 82, No 6, June 1, 2004, pp. 411-422, URL:

40) E. J. Llewellyn, D. A. Degenstein, N. D. Lloyd, R. L. Gattinger, S. Petelina, I. C. McDade, C. S. Haley, B. H. Solheim, C. von Savigny, C. Sioris, W. F. J. Evans, K. Strong, D. P. Murtagh, J. Stegman, "First Results from the OSIRIS Instrument on-board Odin," Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory Publications, Vol. 92, 2003, pp. 41-47

41) W. F. Payne, E. J. Llewellyn, J. S. Matsushita, "OSIRIS: An Imaging Spectrograph for Odin," IAF-95-U.4.11., Proceedings of 46th International Astronautical Congress, Oslo, Norway, 1995.

42) G. D. Warshaw, D. Desaulniers, D. Degenstein, "Optical Design and Performance of the ODIN UV/Visible Spectrograph and Infrared Imager Instrument," Proceedings of the 10th Annual AIAA/Utah State University Conference on Small Satellites, Sept. 16-19, 1996

43) "OSIRIS at the forefront of the study of ozone depletion," CSA, March 14, 2007, URL:

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (

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