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19 September 2013 Capabilities, performance, and status of the SOFIA science instrument suite
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The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an airborne observatory, carrying a 2.5 m telescope onboard a heavily modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. SOFIA is optimized for operation at infrared wavelengths, much of which is obscured for ground-based observatories by atmospheric water vapor. The SOFIA science instrument complement consists of seven instruments: FORCAST (Faint Object InfraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope), GREAT (German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies), HIPO (High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations), FLITECAM (First Light Infrared Test Experiment CAMera), FIFI-LS (Far-Infrared Field-Imaging Line Spectrometer), EXES (Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph), and HAWC (High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera). FORCAST is a 5–40 μm imager with grism spectroscopy, developed at Cornell University. GREAT is a heterodyne spectrometer providing high-resolution spectroscopy in several bands from 60–240 μm, developed at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. HIPO is a 0.3–1.1 μm imager, developed at Lowell Observatory. FLITECAM is a 1–5 μm wide-field imager with grism spectroscopy, developed at UCLA. FIFI-LS is a 42–210 μm integral field imaging grating spectrometer, developed at the University of Stuttgart. EXES is a 5–28 μm high-resolution spectrograph, developed at UC Davis and NASA ARC. HAWC is a 50–240 μm imager, developed at the University of Chicago, and undergoing an upgrade at JPL to add polarimetry capability and substantially larger GSFC detectors. We describe the capabilities, performance, and status of each instrument, highlighting science results obtained using FORCAST, GREAT, and HIPO during SOFIA Early Science observations conducted in 2011.
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