- SOFIA Overview
- Proposing & Observing
- Meetings and Events
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- ii. Preface
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The SOFIA Observer's Handbook for Cycle 8 (hereafter referred to as the Observer's Handbook), provides detailed information about SOFIA operations and the instruments that will be available for observations during Cycle 8. This document is the primary technical reference for astronomers who wish to submit a proposal in response to the SOFIA Cycle 8 Calls for Proposals (CfPs). The CfP documents and the Observer's Handbook (along with the documents and websites explicitly referred to within) contain information sufficient for planning viable SOFIA observations. Additional reference documentation is available on the Proposal Documents webpage. When writing publications, the Information for Authors webpage provides instructions for acknowledgements and citations; additional references may be found on the SOFIA Publications webpage.
This version of the handbook is applicable for Cycle 8 only. The Observer's Handbook will be updated as necessary and the list of changes will be included at the beginning of the document. Critical updates will also be published on the main Cycle 8 webpage. Any information that supersedes what is given in this document will be explicitly indicated.
Cycle 8 features two Calls for Proposals for three different types of proposal opportunities: one Call for regular programs, and a separate Call for both the SOFIA Legacy Program (SLP) and the new SOFIA Archival Research Program (SARP).
For regular proposals, approximately 300 hours of observations will be available with EXES, FIFI-LS, FORCAST, FPI+, GREAT, and HAWC+. Cycle 8 has two notable changes for the instrument suite with FORCAST and HAWC+. During this cycle, FORCAST will offer slit-scan mode, where the slit is moved across a target in discrete steps using dithers perpendicular to the slit axis to yield a spectroscopic map of an entire area of sky. FORCAST will also provide Level 4 data mosaicking to cover larger area than a single observation. For HAWC+, the most efficient mode for total intensity observations (on-the-fly scanning, where the telescope moves continuously at rates of ~10–200 arcsec/second without chopping of the secondary mirror) will also be offered for polarimetry observations as shared-risk. In addition, the Band B 63 μm filter for HAWC+ is under commissioning during Cycle 7 and is available for shared risk observations during Cycle 8.
The SOFIA Legacy Program enables programs targeting a rich archival dataset of significant scientific value to the astronomical community for future analysis. These programs span two cycles of observions and are released without an exclusive use period for the data. During Cycle 8, SOFIA will accept 1-4 proposals with each allocated up to ~200 hours of observing time (~ 100 hours of observations per cycle).
New for Cycle 8 is the SOFIA Archival Research Program, which is included in the Legacy CfP. In this new program, SOFIA will accept up to 10 proposals for projects that utilize archival SOFIA data. Tutorials are available for common data analysis objectives using SOFIA processed data, written for a graduate student audience. In addition, data analysis tools are available for in-depth exploration of FIFI-LS and GREAT data cubes. PIs may apply for the SARP for use on their own prior SOFIA research but only after the full funding period (including all no-cost extensions) of the original observing program has expired.
SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR). The SOFIA Science Center (SSC), responsible for overseeing the scientific aspects of the mission, is located at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA. Flight operations are conducted out of the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in Palmdale, CA. The Science Mission Operations are jointly managed by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) for NASA and by the Deutsches SOFIA Institut (DSI), in Stuttgart, for DLR. Aircraft operations are managed by NASA AFRC.