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11. Instruments VIII: HIPO
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The High Speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations (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, called the FLIPO configuration, 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 been used heavily for these tests. The general design and performance goals of the instrument are described in Dunham et al. (2004, SPIE, 5492, 592). Additional references are available on the HIPO web page.
The primary scientific use of HIPO is 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 ensure that the proposed observations are feasible, that they make the best use of HIPO's capabilities, and that the proposal is as strong as possible.