189 – SOFIA Part 1, Basics

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Guests: Alfred Krabbe, Thomas Keilig, Christian Fischer, Dörte Mehlert, and Zaheer Ali    
Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Tim Jurik

SOFIA is an airborne observatory, a Boeing 747SP modified to carry a 2.7m infrared telescope in the back of the fuselage. In the context of the preparation for my SOFIA flights, I visited the DSI in Stuttgart several times during this summer to record interviews with various DSI people about SOFIA. This episode covers these interviews, plus a recording of the visit of the instrument labs in Palmdale. The guests and topics are Alfred Krabbe, Head of the DSI, on the history and some of the science; Thomas Keilig, CEO of DSI, on the airplane and the modifications; Christian Fischer, Project Engineer of FIFI-LS, on the instrument and some of the science; Dörte Mehlert, Education and Public Outreach, on education and the flying teachers programme; and Zaheer Ali, head of the science and mission operations laboratory, on that lab.

Introduction

00:00:30

Alfred Krabbe

00:03:22

Project History, Overview of aircraft and telescope | German SOFIA Institute/DSI (Deutsches SOFIA Institut) | German Aerospace Center (DLR) | Universities Space Research Association (USRA) | Scientific Objectives | Black Holes, jets | FIFI-LS (Far-Infrared Field-Imaging Line Spectrometer) | Plan for future, funding discussion, challenges | Prior airborne platforms | C-141 Kuiper Airborne Observatory | Lear Jet | Concorde | Airborne astronomy history

Thomas Keilig

00:48:36

Telescope discussion | Airplane modifications | 747 SP | L-3 Communications (formerly Raytheon) | Cockpit modifications/avionics upgrade | MCCS and flight testing | Mission control and command system | Interaction between science instruments, telescope, door and autopilot)

Christian Fischer

01:17:46

FIFI-LS (Far Infrared Field-Imaging Line Spectrometer) | Interstellar medium | Overview of instruments | Red shift | Blue shift | Chop and Nod | Scientific observations/goals/targets

Dörte Mehlert

02:06:40

Education and Public Outreach | Educators interested in applying to the German program should contact Dörte Mehlert at mehlert@dsi.uni-stuttgart.de

Zaheer Ali

02:22:30

Tour of SOFIA Science lab

Summary

02:45:55