Tech

January 8, 2014

FIFI-LS Spectrometer Readied for NASA’s SOFIA Observatory

Christian Fischer, from the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Space Systems, works on the Field-Imaging Far-Infrared Line Spectrometer, or FIFI-LS, in the NASA SOFIA science laboratory prior to testing in preparation for the first observing flights in spring 2014.

The Field-Imaging Far-Infrared Line Spectrometer instrument was shipped from Germany to the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., in November 2013.

After the instrument arrived at the Dryden facility, several months of preparations began for its operation aboard SOFIA, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.

The first science observing flights with FIFI-LS are currently scheduled for March 2014.

Being a so-called 3-D spectrometer, FIFI-LS uses SOFIA’s valuable observing time in a quite efficient way by obtaining images and spectroscopic information simultaneously using a rather complicated mirror system. Only the huge amount of information gathered by FIFI-LS may allow astronomers to identify and understand particular physical processes in the universe. Working at a wavelength range between 45 and 210 microns, the instrument can investigate the interstellar medium and star formation regions in our Milky Way as well as in other nearby galaxies.

FIFI-LS was originally developed by the Max-Planck-Institut Für Extraterrestrische Physik in Garching, Germany under the leadership of Albrecht Poglitsch, but was transferred to Alfred Krabbe’s group at the Institute for Space Systems of the University of Stuttgart in Germany in September. During the past few years, project manager Sebastian Colditz and his team finalized, integrated and aligned the last optical components in the SOFIA laboratory facility of the Baden-Württemberg Space Center before the completed instrument was transformed into flight-certified hardware. In the most extreme case, FIFI-LS might have to endure nine times the force of gravity on Earth’s surface; hence NASA has very high flight safety requirements that must be fulfilled.

FIFI-LS was cooled seven times by liquid nitrogen and helium down to a temperature of minus 271°C to test all components under operating conditions.

Christian Fischer checks the FIFI-LS that is cooled by liquid nitrogen and helium during testing. The University of Stuttgart 3D spectrometer will investigate the interstellar medium and star formation regions of the Milky Way when installed in the SOFIA flying observatory.

During the last two weeks of October, Colditz and his colleagues were quite busy — some last plugs had to be brazed, screws had to be tightened again, and finally the instrument and some laboratory equipment had to be stored safely for transportation. On Oct. 29 the so-called “Pre-shipment Review Board“ led by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) declared: “All-clear! FIFI-LS is ready for shipment to California.” All in all, about two tons of equipment was shipped to the Dryden facility in Palmdale, Calif., arriving the last week of November.

Principal investigator Alfred Krabbe and his colleagues will be busy conducting final tests on the ground as well as on SOFIA to make FIFI-LS ready for its first flight on board the airborne observatory. The first commissioning flights for FIFI-LS on board SOFIA are currently scheduled for February 2014 when the instrument will record its “first light”.

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the DLR. The aircraft is based at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., a satellite facility of NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, which manages the SOFIA program. NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association, headquartered in Columbia, Md., and the German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart.




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


 
 

 

Headlines October 29, 2014

News: Unmanned rocket explodes just six seconds after taking off - A NASA rocket due to be visible across the East Coast on its way to the International Space Station has blown up on the Launchpad. IG: Former chief of wounded warrior office broke law, DOD regs - The Defense Department inspector general has recommended “corrective action”...
 
 

News Briefs October 29, 2014

F-35C makes first landing at Virginia Beach Navy base The Navy says an operational F-35C joint strike fighter has landed at Naval Air Station Oceana for the first time. Naval Air Station Oceana is the Navy’s master jet base on the East Coast. The Navy says the plane came to the Virginia Beach base Oct....
 
 

Time to turn to American technology for space launch

For the first time since the Cold War, the United States has deployed armored reinforcements to Europe. To counter Russia’s aggression, several hundred troops and 20 tanks are now in the Baltic. Yet the U.S. military is still injecting millions into the Russian military industrial complex. In late August, the United Launch Alliance – the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Joe Davila

Boeing, Air Force demonstrate Minuteman III readiness in flight test

Air Force photograph by Joe Davila Boeing supported the launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Sept. 23, 2014. Boeing supported the U.S. Air Force’s succ...
 
 

Pentagon going to court for refusing to release Sikorsky data

PETALUMA, Calif. – The Pentagon is refusing to release any data on any prime contractors participating in the 25-year-old Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program. The American Small Business League launched a program in 2010 to expose the fraud and abuse against small businesses the CSPTP had allowed. As a test the ASBL requested the most...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph

Raytheon Griffin C flight tests demonstrate in-flight retargeting capability

Northrop Grumman photograph Northrop Grumman has received a contract from the U.S. Marine Corps for low-rate initial production of the AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR). G/ATOR is the first ground-based multi-mi...
 




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>