Viking, Sweden's first satellite, was launched February 21, 1986, by an Ariane rocket, and initial results show that all of Viking's experiments are working properly. The 535-kg satellite carried the French remote sensing satellite SPOT in a “piggyback” arrangement. After the Ariane rocket put Viking and SPOT into orbit at about 800 km above the earth, a boost motor on Viking propelled it into orbit at 13,500 km above the earth.
Viking's scientific objective is the study of ionospheric and magnetospheric phenomena associated with the aurora. The satellite carries five main experiments, examining electric fields, magnetic fields, particles, waves, and ultraviolet imaging. Scientists from Sweden, France, Denmark, Canada, and the United States are part of Viking's scientific teams, according to Tom Potemra of the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Md., principal investigator for Viking's magnetic field experiment.