PARIS — The Swedish government has agreed to finance the construction and launch of a 50-kilogram satellite into low Earth orbit to conduct optical studies of mesospheric gases for two years, the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) said Oct. 22.

The MATS, or Mesospheric Airglow/Aerosol Tomography and Spectroscopy, satellite program has been allocated 120 million Swedish krona ($16.7 million) in funding, with a launch planned around 2017. The 50-kilogram MATS will use optical instruments to study luminescent phenomena occurring, especially in the summer months, at altitudes of 80-100 kilometers. The satellite will operate at about 600 kilometers in orbit. The two-year operating life will permit MATS to study two full summers in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

SNSB approved the project following a detailed project study by OHB Sweden, Stockholm University’s Department of Meteorology, Omnisys Instruments and AAC Microtec.

MATS will use a new platform, called InnoSat, that borrows from the Mango platform used for one of the two satellites comprising Sweden’s Prisma formation-flying mission.

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.