Observing with FIFI-LS on SOFIA: Time estimates and strategies to use a field imaging spectrometer on an airborne observatory

Christian Fischer, Aaron Bryant, Siman Beckmann, Sebastian Colditz, Fabio Fumi, Norbert Geis, Thomas Henning, Rainer Hönle, Christof Iserlohe, Randolf Klein, Alfred Krabbe, Leslie W. Looney, Albrecht Poglitsch, Walfried Raab, Felix Rebell, Christopher Trinh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Observing on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) requires a strategy that takes the specific circumstances of an airborne platform into account. Observations of a source cannot be extended or shortened on the spot due to flight path constraints. Still, no exact prediction of the time on source is available since there are always wind and weather conditions, and sometimes technical issues. Observations have to be planned to maximize the observing efficiency while maintaining full flexibility for changes during the observation. The complex nature of observations with FIFI-LS-such as the interlocking cycles of the mechanical gratings, telescope nodding and dithering-is considered in the observing strategy as well. Since SOFIA Cycle 3 FIFI-LS is available to general investigators. Therefore general investigators must be able to define the necessary parameters simply, without being familiar with the instrument, still resulting in efficient and flexible observations. We describe the observing process with FIFI-LS including the integration time estimate, the mapping and dithering setup and aspects of the scripting for the actual observations performed in flight. We also give an overview of the observing scenarios, which have proven to be useful for FIFI-LS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationObservatory Operations
Subtitle of host publicationStrategies, Processes, and Systems VI
EditorsAlison B. Peck, Robert L. Seaman, Chris R. Benn
ISBN (Electronic)9781510601994
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventObservatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems VI - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: Jun 27 2016Jul 1 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherObservatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems VI
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Far-infrared
  • Integral Field Spectroscopy
  • Observing Modes
  • Spectrometer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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