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Science Instrument Suite
Echelon-Cross -Echelle Spectrograph
FIFI-LS Field Imaging Far-Infrared Line Spectrometer
FLITECAM First Light Infrared Test Experiment CAMera
FORCAST Faint Object InfraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope
GREAT German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies
HAWC High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera
HIPO High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations

Supplementary Instruments
GUIDERS Guider cameras
WV MONITOR Water Vapor Monitor


SOFIA Observer's Handbook for Cycle 3

Observer's Handbook

Observer's Handbook PDF version

Seven instruments are currently being developed for SOFIA. These first-generation instruments include three Facility-class Science Instruments (FSIs), three Principal Investigator-class Science Instruments (PSIs), and one Special Purpose Principal Investigator-class Science Instrument (SSI).

FSIs would be operated and maintained by the SOFIA Science Mission Operations (SMO). There will be a designated Instrument Scientist on the SMO staff for each FSI, who will support General Investigators (GIs) wishing to use the instrument.

PSIs would be developed and maintained at the Principal Investigator's (PI's) institution. The instruments will be operated by the PSI Science Team members. However, there would typically be SOFIA SMO staff designated to provide additional support. In response to proposal calls, potential GIs may propose to use PSIs for their observations without consulting the Instrument PI or the Science Team. However, it is expected that the Instrument Science Teams would be involved in the technical review of the proposed observations, and for accepted proposals in the data acquisition, reduction and calibration.

An SSI is designed for a specific type of observation, and therefore with narrower scope than either FSIs or PSIs. In response to proposal calls, potential GIs may propose to use SSIs, but are required to consult with the Instrument PI and obtain approval for the project before submitting a proposal. It is expected that the Instrument PI will work closely with GIs whose SSI proposal has been accepted.

The table below provides a summary of the seven first-generation SOFIA instruments. This is followed by a figure summarizing suite's spectral resolution and wavelength coverage. Additional information can be found on the web pages for each instrument.

The Current Suite of SOFIA Science Instruments

Name PI Institute Description Class
EXES M. Richter Univ. of
California, Davis
Echelon Spectrometer
5-28 microns
R=105, 104, or 3000
FIFI LS* A. Poglitsch MPE, Garching Imaging Grating Spectrometer
42-210 microns
FLITECAM I. McLean UCLA Near-IR Camera and Grism Spectrometer
1-5 microns
FORCAST T.Herter Cornell Mid-IR Camera and Grism Spectrometer
5-40 microns
GREAT* R. Guesten MPIfR
Heterodyne Spectrometer
60 - 240 microns
HAWC D.A. Harper Univ. of
HAWC+ High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera and Polarimeter
50-240 microns
HIPO E. Dunham Lowell
High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations
0.3 - 1.1 microns

*German instrument contributions

Spectral resolution chart
(Click on image for full-size version.)

Three additional first-generation instruments

  • CASIMIR, a heterodyne receiver,
  • SAFIRE, an imaging Fabry-Perot spectrograph and
  • AIRES, an echelle spectrometer

were selected for SOFIA, but are currently not under development.

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Page Last Updated: November 21, 2014

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