October 1, 2016.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) conducts research on a modified Boeing 747sp aircraft. By using a variety of infrared science instruments mounted on a 2.7 meter telescope, researchers can make discoveries about the galactic center, star formation, and various topics associated with a deeper understanding of our universe. To efficiently collect data through the SOFIA instruments, the instruments must be tested and prepared prior to being placed on the aircraft. Therefore, with the use of the Telescope Assembly Alignment Simulator (TAAS), researchers can design and construct improvements needed for these instruments to efficiently perform while in flight. The TAAS simulates an infrared light source through several different installed plates, The Large Chop Hot Plate (LCHP), the Small Chop Hot Plate (SCHP), and the Focus Chopping Light Source (FCLS). This research project focuses on creating a deeper characterization and optimization for the TAAS as well as improving the overall test instrument in order to make refinements on instruments with wide fields of view, such as HAWC+. The research team specifically realigned the TAAS aperture through the use of an infrared camera and the computer software, TAAS FCLS Alignment, and used the focus light source to eliminate aberrations that were discovered by on recent HAWC+ observations. Likewise, the team made developments on the FCLS as needed for the new instrument installments.
Aerospace Engineering | Astrophysics and Astronomy | Mechanical Engineering | Physics
Brian Eney, Zaheer Ali
NASA Armstrong (Formerly Dryden) Flight Research Center
*This project has been made possible with support from Chevron (www.chevron.com) and the California State University STEM Teacher Researcher Program.