Our Mission

NRAO Mission:

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory enables forefront research into the Universe at radio wavelengths.

In partnership with the scientific community, we:

  • provide world leading telescopes, instrumentation and expertise,
  • train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and
  • promote astronomy to foster a more scientifically literate society.

CDL Mission (proposed):

  • Develop technologies necessary for the long-range objectives of the Observatory
  • Advance the state of the art of the technologies required to support the Observatory’s mission.

Why Propose a SOFIA Science Instrument?

  • To do Fantastic Science
  • To push the leading edge of detector / spectrometer capability
  • To exploit synergies with other NRAO development
  • To make use of our unique capabilities (large scale production, system integration, quality) as a National Facility
  • To maintain funding to retain these capabilities for future development purposes

Potential Science Collaborators

HEXOS Herschel/HIFI Observations of eXtraOrdinary Sources (using HIFI and PACS instruments to perform full line surveys of 5 sources in the Orion and Sagittarius B2 molecular clouds) Community
  • Ted Bergin U. Michigan
    • Definitely Interested
    • PI of HEXOS
  • Geoff Blake - Caltech, HEXOS Co-I
  • Gary Melnick - Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, HEXOS co-I, SOFIA Science Project Council
  • David A. Neufeld - Johns Hopkins University, HEXOS co-I

Other Science Communities?

Potential Instrument Collaborators (Competitors)

  • Caltech
    • Jonas Zmuidzinas - Caltech PI of CASIMIR
    • Dariusz (Darek) C. Lis - CSO is he an instrumentalist?
  • JPL
    • Paul Goldsmith group - JPL
    • Who else at JPL?
  • Cornell
    • Gordon Stacey, others?
  • Arizona
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Penn State
  • University of Massachusetts

Other Instruments

  • CASIMIR - Suspended Development in December 2010
  • From SOFIA AAS Workshop:
    • Cancellation was motivated by budget pressures and the science contributions from current and planned high-resolution submillimeter spectrometers on other facilities.
    • High resolution spectroscopy remains an important priority for SOFIA, and the ongoing rapid advancements in technology may make an advanced heterodyne spectrometer a compelling option in the future.

German Instruments

  • GREAT
    • See also Workshop presentation
    • German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies
    • Developed by MPIfR Bonn, Universität zu Köln, MPS Katlenburg, DLR-PF Berlin
    • Studies ISM, Molecular Clouds, Planetary Atmosphere, Comets
    • Channel 1 1,25 - 1,50 THz (240 - 200 μm) H2D, NII
    • Channel 2 1,82 - 1,92 THz (165 - 156 μm) CII
    • Channel 3 2,40 - 2,70 THz (125 - 111 μm) HD
    • Channel 4 4,70 THz (63 μm) OI
    • At any time two channels measure simultaneously with two mixers and two polarizations each
    • Low resolution (1MHz) and High Resolution (0.06 MHz) Spectrometers

  • STAR - SOFIA Terahertz Array Receiver
    • The STAR instrument will contain a 4x4 element heterodyne mixer array for the frequency range from 1.6 to 1.9 THz (187 to 158 microns). Its main scientific goal is large scale mapping of the 158 micron fine structure transition of singly ionized carbon. The design frequency range covers this line out to moderate red shifts and also allows to observe a variety of other spectral lines.

    • The 16 element detector array will consist of two interleaved subarrays of waveguide mixer blocks with diffusion cooled niobium hot electron bolometers (HEB) mixers. Local oscillator power will most likely be provided by a frequency multiplied phase locked backward wave oscillator (BWO). For the efficient distribution of the local oscillator beam among the array elements we use newly developed Fourier gratings. Four four-channel acousto optical spectrometers (AOS) will be used to spectrally analyze the receiver outputs.

Decision Tree, Next Steps

  • What is the compelling science case?
  • If it is obvious that the next SOFIA instrument is not going to be a heterodyne spectrometer, stop at this point
  • What aspect of parameter space do we uniquely cover?
  • Should we talk to the Germans?
  • What type of instrument would we build
    • Facility Science Instrument
    • Science Instrument Upgrade - presumably we would not apply for this?
    • Technology Demonstration Science Instrument

-- RichardPrestage - 10 Feb 2011

-- RichardPrestage - 2011-04-05
Topic revision: r1 - 2011-04-05, RichardPrestage
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