The stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy (SOFIA)

Robert D Gehrz, E. E. Becklin

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

2 Scopus citations


The joint U.S. and German Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Project will operate a 2.5-meter infrared airborne telescope in a Boeing 747SP. Flying in the stratosphere at altitudes as high as 45,000 feet (13.72 km), SOFIA enables observations in the infrared and submillimeter region with an average transmission of ≥80%. SOFIA has a wide instrument complement including broadband imaging cameras, moderate resolution spectrographs capable of resolving broad features due to dust and large molecules, and high resolution spectrometers suitable for kinematic studies of molecular and atomic gas lines at km/s resolution. The first generation and future instruments will enable SOFIA to make unique contributions to a broad array of science topics. SOFIA began its post-modification test flight series on April 26, 2007 in Waco, Texas and will conclude in winter of 2008-09. SOFIA will be staged out of Dryden's aircraft operations facility at Palmdale, Site 9, CA for science operations. The SOFIA Science Center will be at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, CA. First science flights will begin in 2009, the next instrument call and first General Observer science call will be in 2010, and a full operations schedule of ̃120 flights per year will be reached by 2014. The observatory is expected to operate for more than 20 years. The sensitivity, characteristics, science instrument complement, future instrument opportunities, and examples of first light and early mission science are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGround-based and Airborne Telescopes II
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
EventGround-based and Airborne Telescopes 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 Telescopes II


  • Airborne astronomy
  • Infrared astronomy
  • NASA
  • Submillimeter astronomy


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