Prisma and IRF's instrument PRIMA
(PRIsma Mass Analyzer)

Prisma satellites launched 15 June 2010

Prisma formation flying
Prisma satellites flying in formation (Artist's impression: SNSB/SSC)

The Swedish-led Prisma project comprises two satellites which will demonstrate new technologies for formation flying and rendezvous, i.e. close encounters and interaction between space vehicles. The project is primarily financed by the Swedish National Space Board together with DLR in Germany and CNES in France; the Swedish Space Corporation is the prime contractor. The Prisma satellites were launched on 15 June 2010 at 14.42.16 UTC into a low, sun-synchronous, dawn/dusk orbit at an altitude of 600 km. The Russian space company Kosmotras was contracted to launch the satellites on a Dnepr rocket from Yasni in southern Russia.

The Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) participates in the project with a completely new type of instrument, PRIMA (PRIsma Mass Analyzer). PRIMA is a low energy (<100eV) ion mass analyzer based on the Solar WInd Monitor (SWIM) sensor developed for the Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission.

PRIMA will flight validate various new technologies, such as new shutter systems based on MEMS technology (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) used to build new types of ultra-low weight mass spectrometers for applications in space. MEMS shutters have the potential to replace conventional carbon foils or the secondary electrons emitting start surfaces used in time-of-flight mass spectrometers. The PRIMA instrument also contains an ultra-low power electrostatic gating system that can be used alternatively to generate time-of-flight start signals. Furthermore, PRIMA will validate a new type of opto-coupler design used in high voltage power supplies, new types of surface treatments and general use of COTS (commercial off the shelf) components. Other aspects include mechanical design and onboard software development. The instrument has been developed in collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology.

If the project is successful it will be the first time nanotechnology (micro shutters) will be used to analyse particles in space.

The integrated PRIMA PFM instrument.
The integrated PRIMA PFM instrument. Its size is
136mm x 96mm x 94mm and it weighs 531g. (Photo: IRF)

For latest news see the Prisma Satellites web page


15 June 2010 from Yasni, Russia


A low, sun-synchronous, dawn/dusk orbit (altitude 600 km)

IRF instrument:

PRIMA (PRIsma Mass Analyzer)


Prof. Stas Barabash, programme head, stas.barabash*, tel. +46-980-79122
Dr Martin Wieser, Principal investigator (PI) for PRIMA, wieser*, tel. +46-980-79198
Rick McGregor, Information Officer, rick.mcgregor*, tel. +46-980-79178, +46-70-276 6020

Satellite homepage:

Prisma Satellites

Other links:

Webmaster*, latest update 2014-06-18