The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an airborne near-space observatory onboard a modified Boeing 747-SP aircraft, which flies at altitudes of 45,000 ft., above 99% of the Earth’s water vapor. SOFIA contains an effective 2.5 m infrared (IR) telescope that has a dichroic tertiary mirror, reflecting IR and visible wavelengths to the science instrument (SI) and focal plane imager (FPI), respectively. To date, seven different SIs have been designed to cover a wide range of wavelengths and spectral resolutions. Since the telescope operates in the infrared, different techniques, including chopping, nodding, and dithering, are used to reduce the background noise. After finishing renovations on the aircraft and software in 2013 and installing the FPI guide camera, the focus remains to determine how well the telescope pointed, whether it stayed there over the course of the observation, whether it was in focus, and what the pointing and tracking configuration and state of the telescope was. Through the use of bash scripts, and MATLAB routines, analyses of the telescope performance based on housekeeping time series- in particular centroid plots- and guide camera images will be used to determine the observatory performance.


Instrumentation | Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing | Other Astrophysics and Astronomy | Programming Languages and Compilers | Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy


Jeffrey Van Cleve

Lab site

NASA Ames Research Center (ARC)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU).



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/188


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