Institute for Space Research

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Institute for Space Research
founding 1970
Sponsorship Austrian Academy of Sciences
place Graz
director Wolfgang Baumjohann
Employee about 100
Institute for Space Research in Graz

The Institute for Space Research (IWF) in Graz has been dealing with the physics of (exo-) planets and space plasma for over 40 years. With around 100 employees from twenty nations, it is not only one of the largest institutes of the Austrian Academy of Sciences ( ÖAW ), but also the only institute in Austria that develops and builds space-compatible measuring devices on a large scale. The data obtained are scientifically analyzed and physically interpreted at the institute. Director of the institute is Wolfgang Baumjohann , his deputy is Werner Magnes. Since autumn 2000, the IWF has been based in the Victor Franz Hess Research Center of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in the south of Graz.


On April 24, 1970, the general meeting of the Austrian Academy of Sciences decided to found the Institute for Space Research. At the beginning there were several departments (plasma physics, optical communications engineering, experimental space research, satellite geodesy, ionospheric research with radio measurement satellites) in Graz, Innsbruck and Vienna. In 1974/1975 these were combined at the Graz location. Otto Burkard became managing director , Willibald Riedler was initially deputy director, and in 1984 he was appointed managing director. In 2001, Wolfgang Baumjohann succeeded Willibald Riedler as head of department, and Hans Sünkel was appointed managing director. In 2004 he was succeeded by Wolfgang Baumjohann as managing director. In 2015, following the retirement of Hans Sünkel and Prof. Rucker, the departments were dissolved and the institute was divided into four research areas.

Research priorities

In 2017, the IMF is involved in 17 international space missions led by the European Space Agency (ESA) , NASA or national space agencies in Japan, Russia, China and Korea. The missions range from satellite fleets in near-earth space to observing the sun and exploring planets such as Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and extrasolar planets. The IMF was involved with five scientific instruments on board ESA's Rosetta mission. From the construction of the measuring devices to the evaluation of the data, the project duration is 10–30 years.

The focus of device development is the construction of magnetometers and on-board computers as well as laser distance measurement to satellites and space debris, which is carried out at the Lustbühel observatory - a branch of the institute. The scientific data evaluation serves primarily to study dynamic processes in space plasma physics and to study the upper atmosphere of planets and exoplanets.

Mission statement

The IWF consists of an international team from science and technology and sees itself as the Austrian center in the global network of leading space research institutions. By exploring the solar system and its position in the universe, it contributes to expanding the horizon of knowledge of society.

Web links

Ongoing space missions with IMF participation :

Future space missions with IMF participation :

Completed space missions with IMF participation :

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Staff page on the official IWF website
  2. ^ Official website of the OeAW
  3. OeAW annual report 2016
  4. IWF: Institute for Space Research: History . Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  5. ^ Official Austrian website of ESA
  6. ^ Partner of space travel in Austria, official ESA website
  7. Cluster
  9. Van Allen Probes
  10. MMS
  11. CSES
  12. STEREO
  13. ^ Solar Orbiter
  14. ^ BepiColombo
  15. ^ InSight
  16. Chinese Mars Mission
  17. Juno
  18. JUICE
  19. ^ Cassini
  20. CHEOPS
  21. PLATO
  22. Rosetta