SOFIA Prepares for Short Science

Nov 10, 2010 by Beth Hagenauer
SOFIA Prepares for Short Science
Cornell University’s Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, or FORCAST, is mounted on the telescope during preparation leading to Short Science flights. (NASA / Tom Tschida)

(PhysOrg.com) -- The SOFIA flying observatory was the subject of several nights of telescope system checkout activities in mid-October in preparation for upcoming early astronomical science flights.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy’s 747SP was rolled out of its hangar in Palmdale, Calif., on several nights in mid-October for ground-based telescope activities that concluded on Oct. 24. These tests of the individual subsystems and the entire integrated observatory system were in preparation for upcoming early astronomical science flights.

A Cornell University team, under the direction of principal investigator Terry Herter, developed the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the Telescope, or FORCAST, now mounted on the German-built telescope. FORCAST participated in evaluation of recent upgrades to the Mission Control and Communication System, or MCCS, a hardware and software system used by the on-board crew and scientists to control the flying observatory.

Within the MCCS is the Mission Control Subsystem, a software suite that monitors and controls the telescope assembly and ensures the telescope and the cavity door are positioned correctly. SOFIA scientists and engineers also assessed the pointing stability of the assembly and accuracy of line-of-sight resets.

Additional nighttime ground operations testing occurred Nov. 2 and 3 using the Fast Diagnostic Camera developed by the German SOFIA Institute, University of Stuttgart, under the leadership of Juergen Wolf. This testing is a rehearsal for the upcoming observatory characterization flights scheduled for mid-November when operation of the entire system will be checked out. The "Short Science" flight series will follow these two flights.

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GAMan
not rated yet Nov 10, 2010
Glad that science can start soon. This project is another symbol for how the US lost its reputation for a reliable partner in science. After Germany has built the equipment, the US just cancelled thir share of the work. Now that everything is getting ready, the US is touting it as their achievement. At least Germany is mentioned. It is now much harder for the US to cooperate inernationally and they have to get used to congresses where important research results are published by foreign groups. But in a way, this is good. Competition helps to advance the state of the art.