Astronomy at 41,000+ Feet: The Story of the SOFIA Mission ( Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared...

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Transcript of Astronomy at 41,000+ Feet: The Story of the SOFIA Mission ( Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared...

  • Slide 1
  • Astronomy at 41,000+ Feet: The Story of the SOFIA Mission ( Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) Dana Backman SOFIA Education & Public Outreach, USRA & the SETI Institute
  • Slide 2
  • Outline Background info about infrared astronomy The SOFIA Program AircraftAircraft TelescopeTelescope Putting it TogetherPutting it Together Testing ItTesting It Education & Public Outreach
  • Slide 3
  • William Herschel Discovery of Infrared Radiation - 1800
  • Slide 4
  • All the types of electromagnetic radiation Making Light of it All!
  • Slide 5
  • Temperature determines the main type of radiation emitted (left to right: Compton, Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer space observatories)
  • Slide 6
  • Getting the WHOLE picture Constellation Orion left: view at visual wavelengths right: far-infrared view An object can look radically different depending on the type of light collected from it:
  • Slide 7
  • But theres a problem... Earths atmospheric water vapor absorbs almost all incoming infrared radiation Even mountain-top observatories get a limited view of the infrared universe
  • Slide 8
  • View of troposphere / stratosphere boundary from above
  • Slide 9
  • And a Solution... High-flying aircraft -- above 40,000 ft -- can observe most of the infrared universe Airborne infrared telescopes can be more versatile -- and much less expensive -- than space infrared telescopes NASAs Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) C-141 with a 36-inch telescope onboard, based at NASA-Ames near San Francisco, flew from 1975 - 1996,
  • Slide 10
  • SOFIA--The Next Generation Airborne Observatory 2.5-meter (100-inch) telescope in a Boeing 747SP To be based at NASA-Dryden, with scientific mission center at NASA-Ames 140 8-hour research flights per year; 20 year lifetime 20% share with the German space agency DLR The worlds largest portable telescope ! Useful for both visible and infrared research 1+ month per year in southern hemisphere First test flights in 07, first science in 09
  • Slide 11
  • The Aircraft - Clipper Lindbergh
  • Slide 12
  • SOFIA The Observatory open cavity (door not shown) TELESCOPE pressure bulkhead scientific instrument (1 of 9) scientist stations, telescope and instrument control, etc. Educators work station
  • Slide 13
  • Inside, looking aft
  • Slide 14
  • The Telescope
  • Slide 15
  • The Telescope Primary Mirror
  • Slide 16
  • Counter Weight Primary Mirror M1 M2 M3-1 M3-2 Focal Plane Focal Plane Imager Major Telescope Components Cameras Focal Plane Imager Science Instrument Hydraulic System Motors Breaks Bearing Sphere Forward Bulkhead Vibration Isolation
  • Slide 17
  • Putting it together - L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Waco, TX
  • Slide 18
  • Testing It - Observing Polaris with telescope and scientific instrument - August 04
  • Slide 19
  • Testing It - inside the cabin during Polaris observations
  • Slide 20
  • One of SOFIAs 9 scientific instruments that are being built at universities and research institutes in the U.S. and Germany [this is the HIPO instrument crew from Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff]
  • Slide 21
  • Test flights began April 26, 2007
  • Slide 22
  • SOFIA Science Vision What does SOFIA add to what the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope can do? SOFIA collects and analyzes infrared radiation of types Hubble cannot: Hubble has a near-infrared camera; SOFIA also has mid- and far-infrared cameras SOFIA is 3x larger than the Spitzer infrared telescope, thus SOFIA can see details 3x smaller and distinguish objects in regions 9x as crowded as can Spitzer SOFIA has a much larger set of instruments than either Spitzer or Hubble, especially a comprehensive set of spectrometers that measure composition and motions of celestial objects SOFIA is designed to operate for 20 years, equal to Hubbles planned lifetime longer than Spitzer and most other NASA observatories Teachers, journalists and other guests can fly onboard SOFIA as partners with the astronomers and learn how scientific research really works
  • Slide 23
  • 90 cm telescope KAO & Spitzer
  • Slide 24
  • 250 cm telescope SOFIA
  • Slide 25
  • Constellation Orion right: far-IR view, star forming regions
  • Slide 26
  • Organic Growth & Chemistry in the ISM FormationProcessing Fossil / Delivery
  • Slide 27
  • The ring of dust and gas will fall into the black holeThe ring of dust and gas will fall into the black hole Many if not all galaxies seem to have central blackMany if not all galaxies seem to have central black holes like out galaxy -- a clue to how galaxies form? Our galaxys central black hole is obscured by dust,Our galaxys central black hole is obscured by dust, and is only observable by infrared observatories like SOFIA Astronomers observing fast-moving stars and gas infer a 4 million solar mass black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy Astronomers observing fast-moving stars and gas infer a 4 million solar mass black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy Feeding the Black Hole in the Center of the Galaxy
  • Slide 28
  • SOFIA Occultation Studies of Objects in our Solar System SOFIA can probe the sizes, structures (rings), and atmospheres of solar system bodies by measuring how they occult background stars Toward Occulted Star Motion of Occulting Object Shadow of Occulting Object Earth Object SOFIA is uniquely suited for this because it can deploy over most of the Earth to be in the right place at the right time: Can pick from hundreds of events each yearCan pick from hundreds of events each year
  • Slide 29
  • Typical (hypothetical) flight path
  • Slide 30
  • Southern hemisphere deployment -- flight plan to study the Galactic Center
  • Slide 31
  • SOFIAs over-all program management is located at NASAs Dryden Flight Research Center in southern California, next to Edwards AFB. Management of SOFIAs science and mission operations is at NASAs Ames Research Center in northern California, in Silicon Valley, contracted to Universities Space Research Association (USRA) A consortium of 102 universities in the US and abroad 20 research facilities and programs - some at each NASA center Operator of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston
  • Slide 32
  • Back to the good old KAO
  • Slide 33
  • Its 3 AM onboard the KAO... Airborne Astronomy Education & Outreach Ames Research Center Scientists Teachers Reporter Mission Director FOSTER Flight Staff
  • Slide 34
  • Someone You Know Could Fly on SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors - About 100 educators per year will fly on SOFIA - Classroom teachers - Planetarium & science center staff - Community college faculty - Amateur astronomers SOFIA--A space observatory that comes home every morning
  • Slide 35
  • For further information: SOFIA science project home page http://www.sofia.usra.eduhttp://www.sofia.usra.eduhttp://www.sofia.usra.edu Spitzer Space Telescopes award-winning infrared tutorial http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.eduhttp://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.eduhttp://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu (includes instructions for home-made Herschel demo)