Volume 542, June 2012
GREAT: early science results
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Published online||10 May 2012|
GREAT: the SOFIA high-frequency heterodyne instrument
1 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2 I. Physikalisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Straße 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
3 Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Planetenforschung, Rutherfordstraße 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
4 Institut für Optik und Atomare Physik, Technische Universität Berlin, Hardenbergstraße 36, 10623 Berlin, Germany
5 Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Max-Planck-Straße 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
Received: 12 January 2012
Accepted: 1 March 2012
We describe the design and construction of GREAT (German REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz frequencies) operated on the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). GREAT is a modular dual-color heterodyne instrument for high-resolution far-infrared (FIR) spectroscopy. Selected for SOFIA’s Early Science demonstration, the instrument has successfully performed three Short and more than a dozen Basic Science flights since first light was recorded on its April 1, 2011 commissioning flight. We report on the in-flight performance and operation of the receiver that – in various flight configurations, with three different detector channels – observed in several science-defined frequency windows between 1.25 and 2.5 THz. The receiver optics was verified to be diffraction-limited as designed, with nominal efficiencies; receiver sensitivities are state-of-the-art, with excellent system stability. The modular design allows for the continuous integration of latest technologies; we briefly discuss additional channels under development and ongoing improvements for Cycle 1 observations. GREAT is a principal investigator instrument, developed by a consortium of four German research institutes, available to the SOFIA users on a collaborative basis.
Key words: techniques: spectroscopic / telescopes
© ESO, 2012
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