Illustration by ESA of the satellite Chandrayan-1 that still, since October 2008, is in orbit around around the moon.

Swedish instrument still in orbit around the moon

In 2009 the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) completed its successful participation on the Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission with the SARA instrument. A wide range of ground breaking discoveries regarding the interaction of the solar wind with the lunar surface were made, including the first image in energetic natural atoms of a mini-magnetosphere on the moon.
The contact to the spacecraft was lost in August 2009. Recent radar observations by NASA, JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) revealed that the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, including the Swedish-Indian SARA payload, is still in orbit around the Moon, albeit silent.
While the spacecraft long fell silent, the scientific legacy lives on: The discoveries made by SARA lead to new intriguing questions about how the solar wind interacts with the lunar surface.

IRF goes back to the Moon

In 2018, these questions may find their answer with the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN) instrument built by IRF. The ASAN instrument will fly with the Chinese Chang'e 4 mission to the Moon, were it will be mounted on a moving rover 60 cm above the surface of the Moon. ASAN will also investigate the solar wind interaction with the lunar surface and will mark the return of Swedish built hardware to the lunar surface after the famous Hasselblad cameras, which were used during the Apollo missions.

For more information contact:

Dr. Martin Wieser, IRF Kiruna, tel. +46-980-79198,

The Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) is a governmental research institute which conducts research and postgraduate education in atmospheric physics, space physics and space technology. Measurements are made in the atmosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere and around other planets with the help of ground-based equipment (including radar), stratospheric balloons and satellites. IRF was established (as Kiruna Geophysical Observatory) in 1957 and its first satellite instrument was launched in 1968. The head office is in Kiruna (geographic coordinates 67.84° N, 20.41° E) and IRF also has offices in Umeå, Uppsala and Lund.

Institutet för rymdfysik, IRF, är ett statligt forskningsinstitut under Utbildningsdepartementet. IRF bedriver grundforskning och forskarutbildning i rymdfysik, atmosfärsfysik och rymdteknik. Mätningar görs i atmosfären, jonosfären, magnetosfären och runt andra planeter med hjälp av ballonger, markbaserad utrustning (bl a radar) och satelliter. För närvarande har IRF instrument ombord på satelliter i bana runt tre planeter, jorden, Mars och Saturnus. IRF har ca 100 anställda och bedriver verksamhet i Kiruna (huvudkontoret), Umeå, Uppsala och Lund.