the HOB Astro Enthusiast – Late SPRING 2019
… who is SOPHIA?
the answer is,… not a who, but a what.
Ext// SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a 2.7-meter (106-inch) reflecting telescope (with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters or 100 inches). Flying into the stratosphere at 38,000-45,000 feet puts SOFIA above 99 percent of Earth’s infrared-blocking atmosphere, allowing astronomers to study the solar system and beyond in ways that are not possible with ground-based telescopes. SOFIA is made possible through a partnership between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).// continue here …
SOPHIA – Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an 80/20 joint project of NASAand the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to construct and maintain an airborne observatory. NASA awarded the contract for the development of the aircraft, operation of the observatory and management of the American part of the project to the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) in 1996. The DSI (Deutsches SOFIA Institut) manages the German parts of the project which are primarily science and telescope related. SOFIA’s telescope saw first light on May 26, 2010. SOFIA is the successor to the Kuiper Airborne Observatory. It will observe celestial magnetic fields, star-forming regions, comets, nebulae, and the galactic centre. wikipedia
SOPHIA Science Center
SOFIA is an 80/20 partnership of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), consisting of an extensively modified Boeing 747SP aircraft carrying a 2.7-meter (106 inch) reflecting telescope (with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters or 100 inches). The aircraft is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, Calif. The SOFIA Program Office is at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., which manages SOFIA’s science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA; Columbia, Md.) and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI; University of Stuttgart)…. here …
On May 31, 2019, the SOFIA program released two Calls for Proposals (CfPs) with three types of proposal opportunities: one Call for regular proposals, and a separate Call for both the SOFIA Legacy Program (SLP) and the new SOFIA Archival Research Program (SARP). Funding is available for Guest Observers with affiliations in the U.S. (see the relevant CfP for details). There will be a formal update to the Call for Proposals on July 20, 2019 and the deadline for submitting proposals is September 6, 2019, 21:00 PDT (September 7, 2019, 4:00 UTC).
SOFIA Science on Tour (see below) will conclude with a proposal tool webinar on Friday, August 9, 2019. Participants will be led through guided examples and have the chance to ask questions live while learning how to use SOFIA’s tools to submit proposals. More information coming soon.
SOPHIA and the Space Mission
Ext// Three Expedition 59 crewmembers are less than one week away from completing their 204-day mission aboard the International Space Station. In the meantime, space research continues into advanced life support systems and nanoparticle therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques collected and stowed their biological samples for the Probiotics human research experiment …/ continue here …
In the late 1970s, astrochemical models suggested that a detectable quantity of HeH+ might be present within nebulae in the Milky Way. It was thought most likely to be found in what are known as planetary nebulae, which are shells of gas and dust that have been ejected from a Sun-like star in the last phase of their lifecycle. The high-energy radiation generated by the central star drives ionisation fronts into the envelope of ejected material. According to the model calculations, it is precisely here that the HeH+ ions are supposed to form. Yet despite its undisputed importance in the history of the early Universe, it had long proven impossible to find the HeH+ ion in interstellar space. Although it has been known to exist since 1925, specific searches for it in space have been unsuccessful over recent decades.
The molecule emits its strongest spectral line at a characteristic wavelength of 149.1 micrometres (corresponding to a frequency of 2.01 terahertz). Earth’s atmosphere blocks all radiation in this wavelength range, preventing searches by ground-based observatories; therefore, the search must be conducted either from space or using high-flying observatories such as SOFIA. At an altitude of 13 to 14 kilometres, SOFIA operates above the absorbing layers of the lower atmosphere.
“SOFIA offers a unique opportunity to use the very latest technologies at any given time. The ongoing German-led development of the GREAT instrument has now made the detection of helium hydride possible. This underlines the importance of such instruments and the potential that their development holds for SOFIA in future,” explains Heinz Hammes, SOFIA Project Manager at the DLR Space Administration… more here …
SOFIA uses a 2.5 m (8.2 ft) reflector telescope, which has an oversized, 2.7 m (8.9 ft) diameter primary mirror, as is common with most large infrared telescopes. The optical system uses a Cassegrain reflector design with a parabolic primary mirror and a remotely configurable hyperbolic secondary. In order to fit the telescope into the fuselage, the primary is shaped to an f-number as low as 1.3, while the resulting optical layout has an f-number of 19.7. A flat, tertiary, dichroic mirror is used to deflect the infrared part of the beam to the Nasmyth focus where it can be analyzed. An optical mirror located behind the tertiary mirror is used for a camera guidance system.
The telescope looks out of a large door in the port side of the fuselage near the airplane’s tail, and initially carried nine instruments for infrared astronomy at wavelengths from 1–655 micrometres (μm) and high-speed optical astronomy at wavelengths from 0.3–1.1 μm. The main instruments are the FLITECAM, a near infrared camera covering 1–5 μm; FORCAST, covering the mid-infrared range of 5–40 μm, and HAWC, which spans the far infrared in the range 42–210 μm. The other four instruments include an optical photometer and infrared spectrometers with various spectral ranges. SOFIA’s telescope is by far the largest ever to be placed in an aircraft. For each mission one interchangeable science instrument will be attached to the telescope. Two groups of general purpose instruments are available. In addition, an investigator can also design and build a special purpose instrument. On April 17, 2012, two upgrades to HAWC were selected by NASA to increase the field of view with new transition edge sensorbolometer detector arrays and to add the capability of measuring the polarization of dust emission from celestial sources.
the HOB Astro Enthusiast Late Spring 2019 –