After discussions with several partners of the project, it was decided that the SwissCube mission should focus on the observation of the airglow phenomena. The motivation for these observations is to demonstrate the feasibility of using the airglow as basis for development of a low cost Earth Sensor (ES). A model of the airglow emissions as a function of intensity, latitude, longitude and time has been established and the objective the science mission is to collect data that will validate, or at least bring additional information to the model. The development of the Earth Sensor is a separate activity to SwissCube led by the EPFL-LMTS laboratory.

In addition, at the project level and as a technology demonstration, it was decided to develop a payload that has the most commonality/synergy as possible with the Earth Sensor. This decision impacts the design of the payload and the requirements to this effect can be found in the Project (level 2) requirements.

The nightglow is a photoluminescence of the atmosphere at night, occurring at approximately 100 km altitude (see Figure II-1). It is principally due to the recombination of the atomic oxygen, which is dissociated during the day. To study variations of the emissions as a function of time, the minimum science duration is 3 months, with an extended science mission of duration up to 1 year.