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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

Updated December 2006

The 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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Last Updated: Thursday, 21-Dec-2006 13:41:18 EST