A light photon-counting scientific payload, named AURORA, has been developed and launched on a commercial microsatellite in order to study the near-UV night-sky background emission (channel Notte) and the Aurora (Alba). AURORA is mapping, with the Notte channel, the night-side photon background in the 300-400 nm spectral range, together with a particular 2+ nitrogen line ((lambda) = 337nm). These measurements are required in the framework of the Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO) experiment, approved by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the phase A and to be flown on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2009. The Alba channel studies the Aurora emissions in four different spectral bands centered on: 367nm, 391nm, 535nm, 560nm (OI). The instrument has been integrated on the MEGSAT-1 satellite and launched, on the September, 26th 2000, from the Baikonur cosmodrome. The nearly circular Low Earth Orbit (LEO), with inclination of 64.56 degrees, fully includes the ISS ground track envelope. The satellite overall mass is about 60 kg. An overview of the techniques adopted, including detectors, front-end electronics, Central Processor Unit (CPU), is given in this paper, together with a brief report on the mission status and plans.