The satellite has been used as a true observatory in order to best respond to scientific challenges. The astronomy mission was successfully concluded in the spring of 2007 and since then the satellite has been used exclusively for studies of the Earth’s atmosphere. During the first three years of the Odin mission, when both astronomy and aeronomy observations were conducted, the available observing time was shared equally between the two disciplines.
The main instrument on Odin is an advanced radiometer using a 1.1 m telescope, designed to be used for both the astronomy and aeronomy missions. The radiometer works in essentially unexplored frequency bands (486-580 GHz and at 119 GHz) with an unsurpassed sensitivity and spatial resolution.
For the aeronomy mission the payload is complemented by a spectrograph, named OSIRIS (Optical Spectrograph and Infrared Imaging System). OSIRIS provides simultaneous observations in two channels; a UV/Visible channel with a passband of 280-800 nm, and an IR channel with a total pass band of 30 nm, centered on 1.27 microns.
In order to fulfill the scientific requirements Odin is 3-axis stabilized, capable of switching between astronomy and aeronomy modes. It can be staring at astronomical targets for hours with an accuracy of 15 arc seconds or can scan the limb of the Earth's atmosphere at various speeds between 10 and 120 km altitudes, 40 times per orbit, with a reconstructed accuracy of 1.2 arc minutes. The entire satellite is pointed towards the targets.
Odin was placed into a 600 km sun-synchronous, terminator orbit by a START-1 rocket on 20 February 2001 from Svobodny, far eastern Russia.
The Swedish Space Corporation, on behalf of the Swedish National Space Agency and the space agencies of Canada (CSA), Finland (TEKES) and France (CNES), has developed the satellite for astronomers and atmospheric researchers in the participating countries. The satellite is operated from a ground station at Esrange.
The nominal life time of Odin was set to 2 years but the scientific results and technical performance have justified a significant extension of the mission. On February 20, 2012 Odin has concluded its 11th year in orbit and funding for continued operations is secured until the end of 2012. The life-time of Odin corresponds now to almost a solar cycle, which means that the Odin observations have become a powerful tool to address burning climatologic issues.
In view of its importance for climatologic studies ESA has supported the Odin mission since January 2007 as a so called Third Party Mission, funded within its Earthnet Programme.