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Proceedings Paper

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)
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Paper Abstract

The joint U.S. and German Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Project will operate a 2.5-meter infrared airborne telescope in a Boeing 747SP. Flying in the stratosphere at altitudes as high as 45,000 feet, SOFIA enables observations in the infrared and submillimeter region with an average transmission of 80%. SOFIA has a wide instrument complement including broadband imaging cameras, moderate resolution spectrographs capable of resolving broad features due to dust and large molecules, and high resolution spectrometers suitable for kinematic studies of molecular and atomic gas lines at km/s resolution. The first generation and future instruments will enable SOFIA to make unique contributions to a broad array of science topics. SOFIA began its post-modification test flight series on April 26, 2007 in Waco, Texas and will conclude in winter of 2008-09. SOFIA will be staged out of Dryden's aircraft operations facility at Palmdale, Site 9, CA for science operations. The SOFIA Science Center will be at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, CA. First science flights will begin in 2009, the next instrument call and first General Observer science call will be in 2010, and a full operations schedule of ~120 flights per year will be reached by 2014. The observatory is expected to operate for more than 20 years. The sensitivity, characteristics, science instrument complement, future instrument opportunities, and examples of first light and early mission science are discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 July 2008
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 7012, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes II, 70121R (10 July 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.790973
Show Author Affiliations
R. D. Gehrz, Univ. of Minnesota (United States)
E. E. Becklin, Univ. Space Research Association, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7012:
Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes II
Larry M. Stepp; Roberto Gilmozzi, Editor(s)

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