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Proceedings Paper

Pointing stability and image quality of the SOFIA Airborne Telescope during initial science missions
Author(s): Ulrich Lampater; Paul Keas; Rick Brewster; Terry Herter; Juergen Wolf; Enrico Pfueller; Manuel Wiedemann; Stefan Teufel; Franziska Harms; Holger Jakob; Hans-Peter Roser
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Paper Abstract

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an airborne observatory for astronomical observations at wavelengths ranging from 0.3-1600 µm. It consists of a telescope with an effective aperture of 2.5 m, which is mounted in a heavily modified Boeing 747SP. The aircraft features an open port cavity that gives the telescope an unobstructed view of the sky. Hence the optical system is subject to both aerodynamic loads from airflow entering the cavity, and to inertial loads introduced by motion of the airborne platform. A complex suspension assembly was designed to stabilize the telescope. Detailed end-to-end simulations were performed to estimate image stability based on the mechatronic design, the expected loads, and optical influence parameters. In December 2010 SOFIA entered its operational phase with a series of Early Science flights, which have relaxed image quality requirements compared to the full operations capability. At the same time, those flights are used to characterize image quality and image stability in order to validate models and to optimize systems. Optimization of systems is not based on analytical models, but on models derived from system identification measurements that are performed on the actual hardware both under controlled conditions and operational conditions. This paper discusses recent results from system identification measurements, improvements to image stability, and plans for the further enhancement of the system.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 November 2011
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 8336, Integrated Modeling of Complex Optomechanical Systems, 833608 (10 November 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.915762
Show Author Affiliations
Ulrich Lampater, Univ. of Stuttgart (Germany)
NASA Dryden Flight Research Ctr. (United States)
Paul Keas, Moog CSA Engineering (United States)
Rick Brewster, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Terry Herter, Cornell Univ. (United States)
Juergen Wolf, Univ. of Stuttgart (Germany)
NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Enrico Pfueller, Univ. of Stuttgart (Germany)
NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Manuel Wiedemann, Univ. of Stuttgart (Germany)
NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Stefan Teufel, Univ. of Stuttgart (Germany)
NASA Dryden Flight Research Ctr. (United States)
Franziska Harms, Kayser-Threde GmbH (Germany)
Holger Jakob, Univ. of Stuttgart (Germany)
NASA Dryden Flight Research Ctr. (United States)
Hans-Peter Roser, Univ. of Stuttgart (Germany)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8336:
Integrated Modeling of Complex Optomechanical Systems
Torben Andersen; Anita Enmark, Editor(s)

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