Mission Update

SOFIA Faint-Object Infrared Camera Arrives at NASA Dryden's Palmdale Facility
02.17.10
 
Working in NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility laboratory in Palmdale, Calif., Cornell University research support specialist George Gull and USRA/SOFIA's FORCAST instrument scientist Jim DeBuizer secure FORCAST for its post-arrival inspection. Working in NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility laboratory in Palmdale, Calif., Cornell University research support specialist George Gull and USRA/SOFIA’s FORCAST instrument scientist Jim DeBuizer secure FORCAST for its post-arrival inspection. (USRA photo / Kimberlee Gresham) The Cornell University-designed and built Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, or FORCAST, was delivered to the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)’s operations base at the NASA Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., Feb. 8.

FORCAST is a mid-infrared camera that records images in the 5 to 40 micron range (5-8 microns, 17-25 microns, and 25-40 microns – depending upon which channels or filters are selected) that are used to analyze celestial objects. Later this year, FORCAST will initiate science operations onboard SOFIA, a highly modified Boeing 747SP fitted with a 2.5-meter (8.2 foot) German-built infrared telescope.

“I’m really excited about the arrival of FORCAST,” said Erick Young, director of SOFIA Science Mission Operations for the Universities Space Research Association at NASA's Ames Research Center on Moffett Field, Calif. “Our colleagues at Cornell University have worked long and hard to perfect this instrument, and its arrival is a major milestone in preparation for SOFIA’s science program."

FORCAST principal investigator Terry Herter and his team from Cornell University built the one-of-a-kind instrument to deliver multicolor infrared images of the Milky Way galactic center, star formation regions, and nearby galaxies. FORCAST’s images will enable researchers to determine the temperatures and structures of these celestial objects.

Science mission operations director Young will be one of the featured speakers at the June 6-8 Scientific Opportunities for New Instrumentation conference June 6 – 8, 2010 at Asilomar in Northern California. The meeting’s discussions will center around how new technologies can be incorporated into the second generation of SOFIA’s infrared research tools. Details about the meeting can be found here.

More on the SOFIA FORCAST instrument
 
 
By Nick Veronico
Universities Space Research Association