189 – SOFIA Part 1, Basics
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.
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
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)
FIFI-LS (Far Infrared Field-Imaging Line Spectrometer) | Interstellar medium | Overview of instruments | Red shift | Blue shift | Chop and Nod | Scientific observations/goals/targets
Education and Public Outreach | Educators interested in applying to the German program should contact Dörte Mehlert at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tour of SOFIA Science lab
Just for understanding those field spectrometers.
Does each physical pixel have a finely grained Bayer filter grid?
Or do you split the spectrum of each physical pixel and read the spectral information by positions on the spectral line?
You kind of touched the issue. But I did not fully get it I think.
I have no idea :-) Let’s see if more questions come up, and then I will ping the appropriate people to answer them.
Thanks Mark for yet another great podcast.
Did you hear about the massive black hole that devoured a star in a few weeks? Here’s a link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-27/star-torn-apart-by-black-hole-feeding-frenzy/6977188
Also, I happen to going through the BBC In Our Time Science podcasts at the moment and heard recently the Cool Universe episode. Here’s the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s7b6r
Can’t wait to hear Part 2 of SOFIA. You and a lot of us have been looking forward to it for some time now.
No, I had not see these. Thanks for the links! Only 5 days left till Part 2 :-)
Very interesting again, thanks. The last part in the lab was hard to follow, not because of acoustics (or wrong microphones) but because one couldn’t see what the guide was showing…
As for the first question (by Tilman): in astronomy, imaging spectrometers do not record colors the same way as photographic detectors (that would not be sufficient to record a whole spectrum). Instead, each spatial point is dispersed and then the different wavelengths corresponding to the spatial locations are recorded along detector columns or rows. Each physical pixel only records a “grey-scale” value, but put together you detect a whole spectrum. For FIFI-LA
http://www.irs.uni-stuttgart.de/forschung/fifi-ls/instrument.html has a picture, but the principle is the same for optical or near-infrared instruments (there they are usually called “integral field spectrographs”) as well.
Thanks Peter! I agree, that last part way tough that way.
Interesting, but way too long.