FORCAST is a first-light, faciltiy instrument for SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy. SOFIA is a joint NASA-DLR project based at the NASA Dryden Airborne Operation Facilty (DAOF) located in Palmdale, CA. SOFIA consists of an inertially stabiliized 2.5 meter telescope integrated into a Boeing 747-SP. It will operate at altitudes in excess of 41,000 feet to get above most of the water vapor in the atmosphere. The telescope is provided by the German Space Agency DLR. Aircraft modifications have been performed by NASA and SOFIA is now being qualified for science flights in October 2010.

FORCAST is a dual-channel, mid- and far- infrared 256x256 pixel camera. The short wavelength channel (SWC) and long wavelength channel (LWC) use Si:As and Si:Sb doped blocked-impurity-band (BIB) detectors repesctively. The two channels can be operated separately or in tandem. In tandem mode the wavelength split occurs at 26.3 microns and the two arrays view the same area of the sky at the same time. The SWC has a set of 9 filters: 5.4 (0.162), 6.4 (0.141), 6.6 (0.243), 7.7 (0.465), 8.6 (0.207), 11.1 (0.954), 11.3 (0.239), 19.7 (5.506), and 24.2 (2.901) microns while the LWC has a set of 4 filters: 31.6 (5.66), 33.6 (1.927), 34.8 (3.759), 37.1 (3.284) microns.

Left Photo: Left to right Chuck Henderson, Terry Herter, and George Gull with FORCAST (in center) mounted to SOFIA. To the upper right of George is the counterweight rack holding associated FORCAST hardware.   Right Photo: Left to right Jim De Buizer, Joe Adams, and Justin Schoenwald running FORCAST from the PI rack on SOFIA preparing for line operations (testing FORCAST by looking at stars through the telescope from the tarmac).

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Last modified on 19-Jan-2011