AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 49 Radio and IR Observatories and Instruments
Poster, Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[49.07] SOFIA Telescope Functional Integration and Performance Test Activities

P. Waddell (USRA), M. R. Haas (NASA, ARC), E. W. Dunham (Lowell Obs.), E. Bremers (MAN Technologie), F. Harms (Univ. Stuttgart), P. J. Keas (Orbital Sciences), K. Lattner (Kayser-Threde), D. Lillienthal (DLR), A. W. Meyer (USRA), J. Wolf (Univ. Stuttgart)

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a 2.7-m telescope installed in a Boeing 747SP. Collaborators developing the SOFIA telescope and observatory completed an intense period of activation between mid-June and mid-August, 2004. The integration activities included a preliminary modal survey; alignment of the Wide Field, Fine Field, and Focal Plane Imagers; installation of the secondary and tertiary mirrors; and their alignment relative to the primary mirror. Once these preliminaries were completed, SOFIA was rolled out of its hangar for a series of ground-based, on-sky tests using HIPO, the first science instrument to be installed on the telescope. First light was achieved observing Polaris on August 18, 2004. The on-sky test period encompassed 12 nights in late August and early September and included telescope step function response and first-order pointing control, image quality and optical tracking stability measurements, evaluation of the tracking imagers, gravity deformation studies, gyro alignment and bias rate measurement and correction, and performance tests of the secondary mirror Focus Centering Mechanism and Tilt Chopping Mechanism. It also included tests of the complete telescope command set, including Image Quality Compensation (IQC), quasi-static Flexible Body Compensation (FBC), reference frame transformations and trajectory estimation algorithms. This poster summarizes the results and describes the expected performance of SOFIA at the start of science observations. SOFIA is jointly funded by NASA and DLR and is managed by USRA and DSI. The successful, on-schedule completion of these tests involved close coordination by these three parties, CSA Engineering, CSEM, Kayser-Threde, L-3 Communications, Lowell Observatory, MAN-Technologies, Orbital Sciences, and others.

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© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.