IRF, originally the Kiruna Geophysical Observatory, began as a department within the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It has been a public research institute since 1973, under the auspices of the Swedish Ministry of Education and Culture.
IRF participates in several international satellite projects. At present, data from satellite instruments are being analysed to help us better comprehend the plasma-physical processes in the solar wind and around comets and planets. For example, the Swedish Viking and Freja satellites, with equipment from IRF on board, have greatly increased our knowledge of the auroral processes in the Earth’s magnetosphere, as have the micro-satellites Astrid 1 and 2, launched in 1995 and 1998. IRF's own nano-satellite Munin (at 6 kg (13.2 lbs) the smallest-ever research satellite) was launched in 2000. IRF has instruments on board the following on-going satellite projects:
Experiments are conducted with research radars, such as those of the European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association (EISCAT) with transmitters in Tromsø and on Svalbard. These are used for example to study the processes which cause the aurora. The three-dimensional structure of the aurora is studied with ALIS (Auroral Large Imaging System), a multi-station imaging system which uses tomographic reconstruction techniques, artificial intelligence and advanced IT.
Radar, optical methods, sounding rockets and balloons are used for atmospheric studies. Continuous measurements are made of:
Properties of polar mesospheric clouds measured by Odin/ OSIRIS in the northern hemisphere in 2002-2005 (1).(Optical Spectrograph and InfraRed Imager System)(Report)
Nov 01, 2007; Abstract: Interseasonal variations in the properties of Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMC) measured by the Optical Spectrograph and...