SOFIA - The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

GREAT mounted to the instrument flange
GREAT is a heterodyne instrument for high-resolution far-infrared spectroscopy on board of SOFIA. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy is a joint project of NASA and DLR (more information on this unique observatory is provided by the Deutsches SOFIA Institut). Built into a modified Boeing 747-SP aircraft a 2.5m diameter telescope is operated at flight altitudes of 12.5 km and above, thus enabling scientific observations at far-infrared wavelengths that – due to the limited transmission of Earth’s atmosphere at these wavelengths - are not possible from ground-based facilities.
GREAT is a Principle Investigator class instrument, developed by a consortium of German research institutes (PI: Rolf Güsten, MPIfR). GREAT detected first light on April 01 2011, and performed successfully 14 science flights during SOFIA’s Early Science phase. Science results based on these observations will be published in a Special Feature of Astronomy & Astrophysics. In April 2013 GREAT opened SOFIA’s cycle 1 science, and is now preparing for SOFIA’s first southern deployment (9 flights are scheduled from Christchurch, New Zealand, during July 2013). GREAT is operated by the consortium only, but per agreement with the SOFIA Director the instrument has been made available to the SOFIA communities on a collaborative basis (for the details that apply to Cycle 1 & 2 proposals see the US and German CfP). Community proposals will be observed by the GREAT team, the project PI will receive calibrated data in standard CLASS format, raw data will be ingested into the SOFIA data archive.
As a PI-class instrument GREAT is continuously upgraded with the latest technologies available to the consortium. For the relevant applicable performances visit the home page of GREAT.