Congratulations! If you are looking for Cycle 7 instructions, you are probably associated with a successful SOFIA proposal. A few weeks after receiving the award letter, the successful principal investigators (PIs) will be contacted via email by their SOFIA Contact Scientist(s) with detailed instructions on how to prepare the observations; this email starts Phase II of the proposal process. Read on to learn more about all stages your proposal and observations will go through.

If you have any questions at any time, contact us at
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Phase II 

During the Phase II, the Astronomical Observation Requests (AORs) from Phase I, which were submitted with the proposal, need to be further detailed. Without detailed AORs, the observations cannot be scheduled. As mentioned above, the PI will receive an email from their respective Contact Scientist (more than one, if your program utilizes more than one SOFIA instrument). Follow these instructions to complete the AOR edit and approval process. The tool to view and edit AORs is USPOT, the same tool used to submit the proposal. Make sure you are using the latest version of USPOT. It has been updated since the proposal deadline. The latest version of USPOT can be found here.

The end of Phase II and the deadline for completing all AORs is February 17, 2019, unless the PI was told otherwise, which may be the case for programs likely to be scheduled at the very beginning of Cycle 7.

Observing Schedule 

SOFIA's long term schedule for Cycle 7 has been baselined with the acceptance of the proposals. Detailed observing schedules will be developed for each flight series (a sequence of consecutive flights with one instrument) throughout the cycle. The current long-term schedule and existing detailed observing schedules can be found here. The long term and detailed observing schedules may change at any time. Check back to the schedule page to see the latest schedule as it will be updated continuously.

Detailed observing schedules will be published approximately three to four weeks before a flight series starts. PIs will be contacted by the SOFIA Science Center with an invitation to fly during their observations.

Flying on SOFIA 

All observations on SOFIA will be done in service mode, and therefore the PI or their collaborators are not required to fly while their programs are being executed.  However, we will have a limited number of seats on each flight available on a first-come-first-serve basis for you, the guest observer, if you are interested in being present on SOFIA during your observations. More information on flying with SOFIA can be found here. When making travel arrangements to fly with SOFIA, note that there is always a small chance of very short term schedule changes and SOFIA may not fly or fly with a different observing schedule than planned.


The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) program recruits and trains high school science teachers to fly on SOFIA research flights, partnering with SOFIA staff scientists, instrument team members, and guest observers (you). You may be contacted by the AAA program lead, Dr. Dana Backman, regarding your interest in AAA program participation.

After an Observation 

A few weeks after a flight series, the Instrument Scientist, who was responsible for the execution of the observations, will contact the PI of each scheduled program with a short report on the observation. After the data pipeline group has processed all data of a flight series, the Data Cycle System (DCS) will send out emails informing the PI that the data sets have been ingested into the DCS. It will also contain an assessment of the data quality of the pipeline products.  Descriptions of the data products delivered by the pipelines can be found in the Data Handbooks. That web page also features data analysis recipes to start you off with the data analysis. The time frames for the data delivery to the data archive and information on the data pipeline versions can be found here.

For further questions about data access, reduction, and analysis, contact us at


The SOFIA Science Center requests from all observers to submit a notification via when a publication containing SOFIA data is submitted to a refereed journal or a PhD thesis with relevance to SOFIA is submitted. Refer to our Information for Authors page on how to acknowledge SOFIA. We request that information because we maintain a list of all SOFIA refereed papers and PhD theses on our website. When we know about a publication, we can also discuss highlighting your results on our home page or on the NASA main page and other media.