Design of a Mid-IR polarimeter for SOFIA

C. Packham, M. Escuti, G. Boreman, I. Quijano, B. Franklin, D. J. Axon, J. H. Hough, T. J. Jones, P. F. Roche, M. Tamura, C. M. Telesco, N. Levenson, J. M. Rodgers, J. P. McGuire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Mid-infrared polarimetry remains an underexploited technique; where available it is limited in spectral coverage from the ground, and conspicuously absent from the Spitzer, JWST and Herschel instrument suites. The unique characteristics of SOFIA afford unprecedented spectral coverage and sensitivity in the mid-infrared waveband. We discuss the preliminary optical design for a 5-40 m spectro-polarimeter for use on SOFIA, the SOFIA Mid-InfraRed Polarimeter (SMIRPh). The design furthers the existing 5-40μm imaging and spectroscopic capabilities of SOFIA, and draws on experience gained through the University of Florida's mid-IR imagers, spectrometer and polarimeter designs of T-ReCS and CanariCam. We pay special attention to the challenges of obtaining polarimetric materials suitable at both these wavelengths and cryogenic temperatures. Finally, we (briefly) present an overview of science highlights that could be performed from a 5-40μm imaging- and spectro-polarimeter on SOFIA. Combined with the synergy between the possible future far-IR polarimeter, Hale, this instrument would provide the SOFIA community with unique and exciting science capabilities, leaving a unique scientific legacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGround-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy II
StatePublished - 2008
EventGround-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy II - Marseille, France
Duration: Jun 23 2008Jun 28 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherGround-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy II


  • Airborne astronomy
  • Grain alignment
  • Imaging
  • Infrared
  • Instrumentation
  • Magnetic fields
  • Polarimetry
  • Polarization
  • Spectroscopy


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