The small orbiting observatory MOUSE is described in its essential features. Insights in the optical solution (a 2 mirrors 3 reflections telescope using pure hyperbolical surfaces, no aspherics) are given which fit such type of optical layout to scientific requirements. An in-flight recentering of the photons collected by a solar-blind photon counter device will allow for an equivalent angular resolution of 2–3 arcsec over a field-of-view exceeding one square degree. The capabilities of the proposed satellite (imaging, low resolution grisms, polarizers) are described. The choice of the selected sky areas (the two Galactic Poles, the galactic equator and some Bulge Windows) is justified in terms of forefront astrophysical scientific objectives requiring imaging in UV over large fields. The science comprises UV analysis of a complete sample of QSOs, stellar population in galaxies, White Dwarfs, Globular and Open Clusters and OB Associations. In addition a plan for the early UV detection of Supernova events is described.