7.1.2 Camera Performance

The SWC and LWC arrays were selected to optimize performance across the 5 - 40 μm bandpass. Both arrays have a quantum efficiency (QE) greater than 25% over most of their spectral range. The cameras can be operated with variable frame rates and in either high or low capacitance modes (with well depths of 1.8x107 and 1.9x106 e- respectively) depending upon the sky background and source brightness.

The best measured image quality (IQ) obtained by FORCAST on SOFIA is in the 7 - 11 µm range with a FWHM PSF of ~2.7''. This measured image quality in-flight is limited by telescope jitter arising from vibrations of the telescope itself (e.g., due to wind loading in the cavity), turbulence, and tracking accuracy. The figure below shows a sample of FWHM IQ measurements made during a single observatory characterization flight during the winter of 2010 in comparison to the theoretical diffraction limit calculated for a 2.5-m primary with a 14% central obstruction combined with the FWHM telescope jitter, here assumed to be 2.08'' (1.25'' rms).

FORCAST resolution

Figure 7-2: Measured FWHM Image Quality of the FORCAST camera in select filters relative to the diffraction limited FWHM (solid line; calculated for a 2.5-m primary with a 14% central obstruction) and the modeled IQ (dashed line), which includes shear layer seeing and 1.25'' rms telescope jitter.

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