Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA): Overview, The First Science Results, and Future Opportunities
The joint U.S. and German Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), to develop and operate a 2.5-meter infrared airborne telescope in a Boeing 747SP, has now successfully obtained first science with 6 instruments. These instruments are the FORCAST camera in the 5 to 40 micron spectral region, the GREAT heterodyne spectrometer in the 63 to 240 micron spectral region, the HIPO occultation visible photometer, the FLITECAM 1-5 micron camera, the FIFI-LS 50-210 micron spectrometer and the EXES 5-28 micron high resolution spectrometer. An overview of the flying observatory, the instruments and the first science results will be presented. Emphasis will be given to several observations of the Galactic Center Region. Future observing opportunities and participation in future instrument developments, over the 20 year lifetime of the observatory will be discussed.