Welcome to the SOFIA Science Center

Summer Virtual Events: Mark your Calendars!

July 27-29: Building the SOFIA Instrument Roadmap Workshop II
The second workshop to solicit and collect community input to help create a plan and timeline, or a “roadmap,” for SOFIA’s instrument development will be held July 27-29. The first workshop, focused on science cases, happened on June 22-24. The outcome of that workshop will be a prioritized list of science cases based on the community input. The second workshop will focus on concepts and feasibilities for instrument upgrades and new instruments, which could address these science cases. The format includes invited talks and ample time for discussion. This event will focus on instrument concepts and feasibilities. More information here.


Cycle 9 Calls for Proposals Released

SOFIA is pleased to invite proposals for Cycle 9 observations, with a deadline of September 4, 2020, 21:00 PDT (September 5, 2020, 4:00 UTC). Detailed information about the Cycle 9 calls can be found on our Cycle 9 page

Two Calls for Proposals are offered:

- A Call for regular programs, for which approximately 400 hours of observations will be offered and funding up to $4M is expected to be available for eligible proposers

- A Call for the SOFIA Legacy Program, which enables programs producing a rich archival dataset of significant scientific value to the astronomical community. Up to four legacy proposals will be accepted, with each allocated up to ~200 hours of observing time (~100 hours of observations per cycle). Funding is expected to be available at the level of $2M per year.

All six instruments -- EXES, FIFI-LS, FORCAST, FPI+, GREAT, and HAWC+ -- will be available during the Cycle (July 6, 2021 to March 31, 2022). SOFIA plans to offer two Southern deployments: a long deployment from late July through mid-September 2021 offering GREAT and HAWC+, and a short deployment in March 2022 offering FIFI-LS. Formal updates to the Calls will be provided on July 17, 2020.

The HelpDesk is open to answer any question and inquiry from the community: sofia_help@sofia.usra.edu. In August, several Proposal Tools Webinars will be held, where participants will learn how to use SOFIA’s tools to submit proposals through guided examples with the chance to ask questions live. Dates are still TBD, and will be announced on our workshops page and through our e-Newsletter. Slides from the webinar and associated video tutorials for the 2019 Proposal Tool webinar are available here.


New Science Mission Operations Director

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) appointed Dr. Margaret Meixner as the Director of SOFIA’s Science Mission Operations, effective April 13, 2020. As director, Meixner will provide scientific, technical and management guidance to SOFIA. She will work in partnership with the German SOFIA Institute (DSI), and in close collaboration with NASA, to maximize the scientific productivity and impact of the observatory.

New Science Mission Operations Director Dr. Margaret Meixner

Prior to joining USRA, Meixner held several leadership positions at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), including Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope and Instruments Division Deputy. Since 2016, she has been Community Co-Chair of the Origins Space Telescope Science and Technology Definition Team. She is also a Principal Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins University, and a member of NASA’s Astrophysics Advisory Committee.

A recipient of several awards and honors, Meixner was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015 and recognized for her leadership in infrared instrumentation for astronomy.  She was also awarded the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Science Achievement Award in 2009, and the 1994 Annie Jump Cannon Special Commendation of Honor.

Meixner earned her B.S. degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics in 1987 from the University of Maryland, College Park, and received her master and doctorate degrees in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley.


Flash Funding Call for Betelgeuse Archival Research

With the unprecedented visual light dimming of Betelgeuse seen in the fall of 2019, going into the new year 2020, many scientific questions arose as to the nature of this event and its characteristics at other wavelengths. Under several DDT programs, SOFIA has recently observed Betelgeuse as follows:

  • EXES: Observed about 50 min total, centered on the [Fe II] line 25.9884 microns and [S I] at 25.2516 microns, also including water features at 25.32 microns (note that comparable data obtained in 2015 and 2017 is also available in the archive). Proposal ID: 75_0051
  • FIFI-LS: Observed about 45 min covering [O I] 63 microns, [O I] 145 microns, [C II] 157microns and a number of CO lines. Proposal ID: 75_0052
  • GREAT: Observed about 1 hour covering the [OI] 63 microns and [C II] 157 microns lines. Proposal ID: 75_0050

These data will have no exclusive use period and are publicly available through the IRSA archive once the pipeline processing and quality control is complete.

This Archival Research Flash Call invites proposals for funding to support the analysis and facilitate timely publication of one or more of these data sets. As a funding call, this Flash Call is open to qualified astronomers with US affiliations, although access to the SOFIA archive is freely available and not limited to those eligible to apply for this funding. The SOFIA program expects that a total budget of up to approximately $100k will be available for this call. Note that larger funding requests for research on SOFIA archival public data can be submitted through the Astrophysics Data Analysis(ADAP) NASA program.

Each proposal shall be be prepared and submitted as a single .pdf file in an e-mail attachment to flash_call@sofia.usra.edubefore April 24, 2020 - 6 pm PDT. A proposal template and a a budget template are available.

More detailed information about the scope of the proposal and proposal guidance can be found in the Betelgeuse Data Archival Research Call For Proposals. For further questions or help in preparing proposals, please contact the SOFIA Help desk at sofia_help@sofia.usra.edu.


e-Newsletter Release: Cycle 8 Selection Results

View the Cycle 8 Selection Results here.
Read the e-Newsletter here. Subscribe to the e-Newsletter here.

The Cycle 8 Call for Proposals had an outstanding response. For the U.S. and German queue combined, the SOFIA Science Center received 238 observing proposals. Of these, 47 proposals were accepted as Legacy, Priority 1, and Priority 2, with an additional 44 proposals accepted as Priority 3 and Survey programs (see entire list here). Furthermore, five archival research proposals were received and one was accepted.

The selected Legacy program (PI Neufeld) will span two observing cycles; two additional Legacy proposals were selected as pilot programs for Cycle 8 (PIs Lopez Rodriguez and Stephens). The data will have no exclusive-use period, and hence the community will have immediate access to these high-impact datasets.

Legacy Program - HyGAL: Characterizing the Galactic Interstellar Medium with Hydrides
PI: David Neufeld (Johns Hopkins University) and Peter Schilke (University of Cologne)
Proposal ID 08_0038

Pilot Legacy Program - FIELDMAPS: Filaments Extremely Long and Dark: A Magnetic Polarization Survey
PI: Ian Stephens (Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Proposal ID 08_0186

Pilot Legacy Program - SOFIA Heralds a New Era of Measuring the Magnetic Fields of Galaxies
PI: Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez (SOFIA Science Center)
Proposal ID 08_0012
Team website: http://galmagfields.com/ (including data, tools and publications)


Data Released for SOFIA's First Completed Legacy Program

SOFIA Galactic Center Legacy Proposal Data Released

Get the data here.


Cycle 8 Information

SOFIA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals timeline

Visit the Cycle 8 webpage for more information ​here.

Read the Call for Proposals (for regular proposals) here.
Read the Call for Proposals for Legacy (SLP) and Archival (SARP) programs here.
Read the Observer's Handbook for Cycle 8 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). The deadline for submitting proposals was September 6, 2019, 21:00 PDT (September 7, 2019, 4:00 UTC).


Astrophysical Journal Letters - Special Issue featuring SOFIA

ApJL Cover

Download the Special Issue here.


Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation Special Issue featuring SOFIA

Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation cover

Download the Special Issue here.


Cookbook Recipes

SOFIA cookbook logo

View and download the Cookbook Recipes here.

The Cookbooks Recipes contain guided examples of common data analysis objectives using SOFIA processed data. They are written for a graduate student audience and are intended to be used with the Data Handbooks. The Cookbook Recipes and Data Handbooks are located on the Data Resources webpage.

SOFIA currently has the following Cookbook Recipes available:

  • FORCAST Photometry
  • FORCAST Grism Spectra Series:
    • I. Basic Inspection and Assessment
    • II. Custom Spectral Extraction
    • III. Basic Line Analysis
  • HAWC+ Data Recipe with 30 Doradus Publicly Available SDDT Data
  • FIFI-LS: Basic Cube Analysis using SOSPEX
  • GREAT: How to View GREAT Spectra Using CLASS Utility

Contact the SOFIA Help-Desk

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