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Paper: SOFIA: Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
Volume: 417, Submillimeter Astrophysics and Technology: A Symposium Honoring Thomas G. Phillips
Page: 101
Authors: Becklin, E. E.; Gehrz, R. D.
Abstract: The NASA/DLR Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a 2.5 m infrared telescope in a Boeing 747SP. Flying at altitudes as high as 45,000 feet, it will enable 0.3 μm – 1.6 mm observations with an average transmission of ≥ 80%. We describe the key role that Tom Phillips played in the early days of airborne astronomy that culminated in the development of SOFIA. The facility design and status are described. Nine first generation instruments that will fly on SOFIA include broadband imaging cameras, moderate resolution spectrographs capable of resolving emission features due to dust and large molecules, and high resolution spectrometers suitable for kinematical studies of molecular and atomic gas lines at km s-1 resolution. World-wide deployments will provide access to the entire sky and enable timely observations of transient events. SOFIA’s sensitivity for imaging and spectroscopy is similar to that of the space observatory ISO. Its telescope is diffraction-limited beyond 25 μm, making its images 3 times sharper than those obtained by the Spitzer Space Telescope at these wavelengths. We describe the characteristics of the observatory and give several examples of science opportunities with SOFIA.
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