Ground Station

The "Snickerboa" Ground Station at IRF, Kiruna, Sweden

The IRF Satellite Ground Station "Snickerboa" (previously used as a ground station for the Freja and the Astrid satellites) is used for communications with Munin. The ground station software has been updated to use Linux operating system and direct web publishing of the data.

The Groundstation layout


The hardware used on the ground station is mainly of-the-shelf equipment (the modem is not), as one could buy in any ordinary computer store. As one can see in the picture above, the ground station consists of three computers, one 486-33 dedicated for doppler-shift control and satellite tracking (Satellite Tracking), a Pentium 90 MHz for the Web services and presentation of received data (WWW Server) and a Pentium 133 MHz for the actual Satellite Control. Except the three computers, four more devices are attached to the ground station: A radio receiver (ICOM), a radio transmitter (ICOM), a custom built modem and a "trackbox" that is used in conjunction with the Satellite Tracking-computer.


Satellite tracking - Running Linux with an antenna control software. The computer automatically updates itself with orbit parameters regularly over Internet. Additionally, the program also keeps track of doppler shift changes and passes "step up" and "step down" pulses (in 100Hz steps) to both the radio receiver and transmitter.

The Munin Satellite Control Window

The Munin Housekeeping Display Window

Satellite Control - Running Linux and X-Windows for our X-applications which are designed for the Munin satellite using the popular Forms Library. The software run on this machine are programs to help to calibrate the various instruments, to show housekeeping, ion distribution, electron distribution, the pictures taken by the HiSCC (CCD camera, preview below). There is one program to display the housekeeping data in real time (above). The last and the most important program is of course the actual control panel for sending commands to the satellite and its instruments (preview above).

The HiSCC Picture viewer.

WWW Server - Also running Linux with a webserver called Apache, and a ftp-server. This is the site where all status and information will be (are) available and where later also the data will be published. The data will be available for download immediately after each orbit and date, free for all to use. Later on simulations of the auroral ovals will be available here. Internet address: (well.... here you are!)


The groundstation has been designed to work completely unsupervised. The Munin team has gathered knowledge in constructing this type of automatic groundstations during the Freja and Astrid missions and therefore it is also used for the Munin mission.

Munin Ground Station Manual

Contact person for the Munin groundstation is: Mr. Leif Kalla

IRF - RYP - SwRI - Luth