SAFIRE: Far-Infrared Imaging Spectroscopy on SOFIA
PI: S. Harvey Moseley, NASA/GSFC
Instrument Scientist: Dominic J. Benford , NASA/GSFC
Fabry-Perot Specialist: Gordon J. Stacey, Cornell
Detector Specialist: Johannes G. Staguhn, UMd and NASA/GSFC
Submillimeter and Far-InfraRed Experiment (SAFIRE) on the SOFIA airborne
observatory is an imaging Fabry-Perot spectrometer operating at wavelengths
between 100μm and 700μm. SAFIRE's key science goal is to
investigate line emission in galaxies at wavelengths not visible from the
ground, and to map the variation in this line emission in nearby galaxies.
SOFIA will fly at an altitude where the atmosphere is mostly transparent,
permitting SAFIRE to achieve a high point source sensitivity at most
wavelengths. With a field of view of 160''x320'' at a spectral resolution
of ~200km/s, when SAFIRE achieved first light in 2006, it will add
substantial capability to the first light instrument complement of SOFIA.
SAFIRE's top priority observations will be to measure emission lines in the
Galactic center, to map emission lines in nearby galaxies, and to
understand the physics of the cores of ultraluminous galaxies from the
local region to the high redshift universe through far-infrared
fine-structure line emission.
SAFIRE fills a unique role for SOFIA, and its capabilities enable many
science projects.Some highlights of enabled investigations include studies
of the Galactic center, the study the spatial distribution of lines in
nearby galaxies, the study of distant galaxies through their fine-structure
line emission, and studies of ionized carbon emission from a variety of
sources. Additionally, SAFIRE is a platform to develop technologies;
large-format superconducting bolometer arrays and flexible instrument
control software are two notable examples. SAFIRE is scheduled to acquire
first light on SOFIA after the observatory reaches Initial Operational
Capability in 2010.
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