Download the SOFIA Cycle 5 Call for Proposals Document (version 2.1, June 10, 2016)

SOFIA Observer's Handbook for Cycle 5


For Cycle 5, the following instruments are offered: EXES, FIFI-LS, FLITECAM, FORCAST, FPI+, GREAT, and HAWC+. The instrument modes available for Cycle 5 observations are listed in the Call for Proposals and described in detail in the Observer's Handbook. The instrument properties are summarized on the instrument pages.

Reserved Observations Catalogs (ROCs)

Summary tables containing the reserved observations for each instrument are included as appendices in the Call for Proposals. Generally, these may not be proposed for in Cycle 5. The policies are described in Section 1.7.1 of the Call for Proposals document.

Duplication Checking

Duplications of existing observations, or of observations approved for Cycle 4 but not yet executed, need to be justified explicitly. Proposers should search the SOFIA Science Archive for completed observations and the AOR Search page for approved Cycle 4 observations to check for potential duplications.

The Science Archive search results tables for the GREAT instrument do not list the exact frequencies observed. Therefore, if proposers find that a target has been observed by GREAT, they should follow up by executing an AOR search for that target for "All Cycles" with GREAT as the selected instrument. The results will include the observed frequencies. The set of frequencies observed may be incomplete for observations in earlier cycles. Please contact us at if you have any questions about possible duplications.

Proposal Tools and Tutorials

SOFIA Proposal Tool (SPT)

NOTE (June 3, 2016): An issue with the current version of SPT (v3_1_1) has come to our attention; carriage-returns are stripped from text entered into the text-fields in the SPT form when the proposal is saved.  The content of these fields are preserved, but the resulting PDF file is likely to be poorly formatted in the relevant areas.  This issue will be fixed in the next version of SPT, which we expect will be released shortly. 

You may continue using the current version of SPT (v3_1_1) to prepare and submit proposals, and if needed, submit, or resubmit using the new version (v3_1_2) to correct the formatting.

All proposals are to be prepared and submitted using the SOFIA Proposal Tool (SPT), which is based on the Astronomer’s Proposal Tool (APT) used for Hubble Space Telescope proposals.

Download SPT (v3_1_1 and higher required for Cycle 5)

SPT can be downloaded without registering for a DCS account, and without being logged in to DCS. However, a DCS user account is necessary for submitting a SOFIA Phase I proposal. We recommend that new users register with DCS well before the submission deadline.

Exposure Time Estimation

EXES - exposure times should be obtained from the on-line calculator for EXES observations, maintained by the Instrument PI, Matthew Richter (UC Davis).

FIFI-LS on-line time estimator.

FLITECAM imaging - on-line calculator, SITE.

FLITECAM grism observation calculator.

FORCAST imaging - on-line calculator, SITE.

FORCAST grism observation calculator.

FPI+ - on-line calculator, SITE.

GREAT - exposure times should be calculated using the GREAT on-line time estimator. The calculations are based on the “Guide to observation planning with GREAT”, which also contains detailed information about the instrument.

HAWC+ - on-line calculator, SITE.

Atmospheric Transmission

The atmospheric transmission as a function of wavelength may be obtained using the on-line tool ATRAN developed and kindly provided to the SOFIA progrm by Steve Lord. The use of ATRAN is necessary for planning SOFIA high-resolution spectroscopic observations.

Target Visibility Tool

The target visibility for SOFIA can be determined using the Visibility Tool (VT), which is now available both as a Java Applet or for download. Note that the use of VT is not a requirement, since detailed flight planning is done by the SMO staff.

Other Supporting Resources

SOFIA Publications

SOFIA Observers' Workshop presentations

Refereed publications using SOFIA data, and about the Observatory and instruments are available on the publications page.

Ringberg Workshop

The "Ringberg Workshop on Spectroscopy with the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)" was held on March 15-18, 2015. Some presentations from the meeting are available here. Abstracts of all the presentations, and other details may be found on the meeting website.

Cycle 5 Information

Cycle 5: Phase II Information

Contact the SOFIA help-desk