Press release from IRF

Kiruna, 2008-10-20

Press Release
from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF)

Swedish instrument to be launched towards the Moon
on an Indian satellite early on Wednesday morning 22 October 2008

Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft above the lunar surface (Artist's impression: ISRO)
Chandrayaan-1 (Artist's impression: ISRO)

Very early on Wednesday morning the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 will be launched towards the moon. On board is an instrument, developed in Kiruna, which will contribute to our understanding of the lunar environment. The first Indian mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1, is to be launched on 22 October 2008 at 02:50 (Central European Time) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) on the Sriharikota island, 100 km north of Chennai in India. SHAR is the main launch centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Chandrayaan-1 is devoted to high resolution remote sensing of the lunar surface in visible, near-infrared, X-ray and low energy gamma rays.

One of the satellite instruments is the particle instrument SARA (Sub-Kev Reflection Atom Analyzer), developed jointly by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), Kiruna, Sweden, and the Space Physics Laboratory of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (SPL-VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, India, with contributions from the University of Bern, Switzerland, and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Sagamihara, Japan. The SARA experiment is the first collaborative project between IRF in Kiruna and ISRO. SARA will study how the environment interacts with the Moon.

"SARA will perform remote sensing of atoms kicked up off the outermost layer of the lunar surface by the solar wind," says Stas Barabash, Professor of Space Physics at IRF. "Since the Moon does not have an atmosphere, the solar wind (a stream of charged particles from the Sun) impacts the Moon surface constantly. The instrument will study how the solar wind interacts with the Moon surface as well as addressing such issues important for future Moon exploration and exploitation as the composition of the Moon surface and how the lunar surface changes under the influence of the solar wind."

Eight members of the SARA team are in India for the launch, one scientist and six engineers (including the project experiment manager) from IRF and one scientist from JAXA in Japan.

IRF in Kiruna is arranging the event "Chandrayaan-1 launch" at the Space Campus in Kiruna on Wednesday 22 October. Press and media are welcome to attend (please register your interest with Rick McGregor, Information Officer, IRF, tel. +46-980-79178, +46-70-276 6020,

Press event: "Chandrayaan-1 launch"


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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.