In accordance with Policy 9 of the Science Utilization Policies for SOFIA, the NASA SMD Astrophysics Director Dr. Paul Hertz decided to retire the FLITECAM Facility-class Science Instrument, effective February 2018. The decision was also made to remove the Special-purpose Science Instrument HIPO from the list of SOFIA supported instruments. These two instruments will therefore not be offered in future calls, nor be available for DDT proposals.

The High Speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations (HIPO) is a Special Purpose Principal Investigator class Science Instrument (SSI).

Principal Investigator: Edward Dunham

HIPO is designed to provide simultaneous high-speed time resolved imaging photometry at two optical wavelengths. The primary HIPO detectors are e2v CCD47-20 1024x1024 pixel frame transfer CCDs with plate scales of 0.33''x0.33'' pixels at low resolution and 0.05''x0.05'' pixels at high resolution. The HIPO field of view (FOV) is a 5.6 arcmin square, the 8 arcmin diagonal of which corresponds to the 8 arcmin diameter SOFIA FOV. The filter set includes the Johnson (UBVRI) and Sloan (u’g’r’I’z’) filters as well as a filter for methane at 890 nm. A number of readout modes are available allowing the observer to optimize the subframe size, speed, noise, full well and linearity tradeoff for any particular event.

HIPO is an SSI, and therefore interested users must consult with, and obtain the approval of the Instrument PI, Dr. Edward Dunham before submitting a proposal. 

HIPO can be co-mounted with the First Light Infrared Test Eperiment CAMera (FLITECAM) providing simultaneous optical and near-infrared imaging.

HIPO Scientific/Technical Abstract and Additional References


HIPO instrument

HIPO instrument


Name of Instrument
HIPO - High Speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations

Instrument type
High-speed Imaging Photometer
0.3 - 1.1 microns

Principal Investigator
Dr. Edward W. Dunham;
Lowell Observatory
1400 West Mars Hill Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Dr. Michael J. Person
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Bldg. 54-418
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact the SOFIA help-desk

Scientific/Technical Abstract

HIPO is a special-purpose science instrument for SOFIA that is designed to provide simultaneous high-speed time resolved imaging photometry at two optical wavelengths. It is possible to mount HIPO and FLITECAM on the SOFIA telescope simultaneously to allow data acquisition at two optical wavelengths and one near-IR wavelength. HIPO has a flexible optical system and numerous readout modes, allowing many specialized observations to be made. The instrument characteristics required for our proposed scientific pursuits are closely aligned to those needed for critical tests of the completed SOFIA Observatory, and HIPO has beenused heavily for these tests. The general design and performance goals of the instrument are described in the 2004 paper in the references below.

Our main scientific interest is in the use of HIPO for observing stellar occultations. In a stellar occultation, a star serves as a small probe of the atmospheric structure of a solar system object or the surface density structure of a planetary ring or comet. Such observations provide information at high spatial resolution that would otherwise require a space mission to obtain. This work makes use of SOFIA's mobility, freedom from clouds, and near-absence of scintillation noise to provide the best possible occultation data.

The low atmospheric scintillation in airborne photometry gives HIPO the potential to detect P-mode stellar oscillations in sunlike stars and will provide excellent photometry of stellar transits by extrasolar planets. HIPO will be available for Guest Investigator use on a collaborative basis, and potential Guest Investigators should contact the PI prior to proposing to insure that the proposed observations are feasible and make the best use of HIPO 's capabilities.

Additional References

Dunham et al., "HIPO data products," Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy II, Ian S. McLean, Editor, Proc. SPIE 7014, 70144Z (2008), DOI: 10.1117/12.788040 [pdf]

Dunham et al., "HIPO: a high-speed imaging photometer for occultations," Ground-based Instrumentation for Astronomy, Alan F. M. Moorwood & Masanori Iye, Editors, Proc. SPIE 5492, 592 (2004), DOI: 10.1117/12.552152 [pdf]

E. W. Dunham, "The optical design of HIPO: a high-speed imaging photometer for occultations," Airborne Telescope Systems II, Ramsey K. Melugin & Hans-Peter Roeser, Editors, Proc. SPIE 4857, 62 (2003), DOI: 10.1117/12.458819 [pdf]

Dunham, et al., "SOFIA image motion compensation," Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy III, Ian S. McLean, Suzanne K. Ramsay, & Hideki Takami, Editors, Proc. SPIE 7735, 77355X (2010), DOI: 10.1117/12.857731 [pdf]