SOFIA Instrumentation Planning
Event date
Margaret Meixner & Bernhard Schulz
SOFIA Science Center/Deutsche SOFIA Institut
Event Type

For information on how to participate in the teletalks, please check the SOFIA Tele-Talk page.

The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) can reinvent itself with new instrumentation that can expand its science discovery space by a factor of 10 in sensitivity or mapping speed. Indeed, a key advantage that SOFIA has over space and balloon infrared missions, is its ability to safely return its scientific payload back to the ground after every flight. This allows not only for access to the hardware during flight and repair after flight in case of malfunction, but also provides the opportunity for regular upgrades. While space missions will only fly hardware with high TRLs and consequently older technology, SOFIA allows to accept a somewhat higher risk w.r.t. longevity that permits use of cutting edge technology. Moreover, SOFIA can support complex instruments. Thus it serves as an important step on the path between balloon and space observatory instrumentation. Driven by science requirements from the astronomy community and instrument options from the instrument building community in 2020, NASA adopted this year a roadmap for instrument upgrades on SOFIA, covering the next ten years. The first step is already being implemented. In this presentation we will showcase the current observational capabilities of SOFIA, constraints that affect scheduling and efficiency, and options for improvements that are being addressed by the NASA roadmap. Further we will report on the status of a similar effort that is currently under way on the German side with European involvement.

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