Tech

September 5, 2012

NASA’s SOFIA to embark on new cycle of science observations

dryden-sofia


PALMDALE, Calif. – The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, a joint program between NASA and the German Aerospace Center DLR, is set to begin its first full cycle of science flights starting in November 2012 and extending through December 2013.

SOFIA’s Science Mission Operations Director Erick Young today announced the list of researchers who have been awarded time to study the universe with this unique infrared observatory.

SOFIA is a heavily modified 747SP aircraft that carries a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches (2.5 meters) to altitudes above 39,000 feet (12 km),beyond the obscuring layer of water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere.

In announcing the observing time awards, Young noted, “More than 1,000 hours of observing time were requested, five times the amount available, evidence of SOFIA’s desirability to astronomers. The approved projects make good use of the observatory’s capabilities to study objects ranging from Earth’s solar system neighbors to galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away.”

SOFIA’s first airborne science observations were made in December 2010. During 2011, SOFIA accomplished 30 flights in the “Early Science” program as well as a deployment to Germany from its base at NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.

The newly announced observing period, known as Cycle 1, includes 46 science flights grouped in four multi-week observing campaigns spread through a 13-month span. The Cycle 1 science flights include approximately 330 research flight hours, about 200 hours of which have been awarded to guest investigators whose proposals to observe with SOFIA were evaluated by U.S. and German-charteredpeer review panels.

In addition to the 46 science flights planned for Cycle 1, during the coming months SOFIA will undertake commissioning observations needed to make the first four of the observatory’s seven first-generation scientific instruments ready for use by guest investigators. The four instruments to be employed during Cycle 1 are: the FORCAST mid-infrared camera and spectrometer (Principal Investigator Terry Herter, Cornell University); the GREAT far-infrared spectrometer (P.I. Rolf Guesten, Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy); the HIPO high-speed photometer (P.I. Ted Dunham, Lowell Observatory); and the FLITECAM near-infrared camera and spectrometer (P.I. Ian McLean, University of California at Los Angeles).

Twenty-six U.S. educators in the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program previously were chosen to participate in SOFIA Cycle 1 flights as partners with the astronomers. These educators, including classroom teachers and science museum staff, were selected based on the quality of their plans to bring SOFIA training and flight experiences back to their classrooms and communities. Six German Airborne Ambassador educators also are expected to participate in SOFIA flights during Cycle 1.

“Last year, SOFIA demonstrated that it is well on its way to being a first-class asset to the world scientific community.Since then, the observatory staff has been working hard to complete integrated systems testing, fine-tuning of observatory performance, and planning for international operations,” said Pete Zell, NASA SOFIA Science Project manager. “This SOFIA Cycle 1 announcement marks an important step in our progress. Infrared studies from these observations will enhance our knowledge of the life cycles of stars, how planets form, the chemistry of the interstellar medium, and much more.”

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center that is based and managed at NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, Md., and the German SOFIA Institute at theUniversity of Stuttgart.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
University of Rhode Island photograph by Tom Glennon

NASA kicks off field campaign to probe ocean ecology, carbon cycle

University of Rhode Island photograph by Tom Glennon The Research Vessel Endeavor is the floating laboratory that scientists will use for the ocean-going portion of the SABOR field campaign this summer. NASA embarks this week o...
 
 
NASA photograph by Carla Thomas

NASA’s high-flying laser altimeter to check out summer sea ice, more

NASA photograph by Carla Thomas This summer, the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar, or MABEL, will fly above Alaska and the Arctic Ocean on one of NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude aircraft. Sea ice in summer looks dramatica...
 
 
SOFIA

Outer space to inner space: SOFIA inside Lufthansa Technik hangar

NASA photograph by Jeff Doughty NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy is shown inside the Lufthansa Technik hangar in Hamburg, Germany where it is beginning its decadal inspection. Flight, aircraft maint...
 

 
NASA photograph by Tony Landis

New life for an old bird: NASA’s F-15B test bed gets new engines

NASA photograph NASA’s F-15B flight research test bed carries shuttle thermal insulation panels on its underbelly during a research flight in 2005. NASA Armstrong’s F-15B aeronautics research test bed, a workhorse at th...
 
 
NASA photograph by Tom Tschida

Towed glider benefits from center’s new 3-D printer capability

NASA photograph by Tom Tschida The major components of NASA Armstrong’s new high-resolution 3-D additive manufacturing printer occupy a shelf in the center’s subscale aircraft research lab. Robert “Red” ...
 
 
NASA photograph by Emmett Given

NASA completes testing on 3-D printer

NASA photograph by Emmett Given United Space Alliance engineer Cynthia Azzarita, left, and Boeing Company engineer Chen Deng, members of the Human Factors Integration Team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, conduct a “...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>