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Universität zu Köln
Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Fachgruppe Physik

I. Physikalisches Institut

Hochfliegende Astronomie mit deutschem Instrument

GREAT-scienceErstflug des Flugzeug-Observatoriums SOFIA mit dem Spektrometer GREAT

SOFIA, das “Stratosphären-Observatorium für Infrarot-Astronomie”, hat am 6. April 2011 am frühen Morgen den ersten Wissenschaftsflug abgeschlossen, bei dem der in Deutschland entwickelte Empfänger GREAT erfolgreich eingesetzt wurde. Mit dem „German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies” wurden spektroskopische Beobachtungen in Richtung von M17, einer Region mit verstärkter Sternentstehung in unserer Milchstraße, sowie der nur wenige Millionen Lichtjahre entfernten Galaxie IC342 durchgeführt.

In Flughöhen des SOFIA von bis zu 13 km wird die Erdatmosphäre auch für die Fern-Infrarot Strahlung aus dem Weltraum durchlässig und macht astronomisch wichtige Spektrallinien der Beobachtung zugänglich. Das Instrument wurde unter Leitung von Dr. Rolf Güsten vom Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie und der Universität zu Köln entwickelt, in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung und dem DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung.

Universität zu Köln
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)
Universität Stuttgart
Die Welt
Hamburger Abendblatt
NASA Video Chat on March 17: The Science Behind SOFIA

(fsc 2011-04-07)

GREAT: line-ops

GREAT operations at runway ("line-ops") on January 28/29, 2011

Photo Copyright: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida

GREAT, the "German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies", is a receiver for spectroscopic observations at far-infrared frequencies between 1.2 and 5 Terahertz (60-220 µm wavelength), not accessible from ground because of water vapour absorption. The receiver will be used at the airborne observatory SOFIA. GREAT has been built as one of two German SOFIA instruments of the first generation by a consortium of German research institutes (MPIfR Bonn, Universität zu Köln, MPS Katlenburg-Lindau, DLR-PF Berlin). Project manager for GREAT is Dr. Rolf Güsten (MPIfR). The development of the instrument was financed by means of the participating institutes, Max Planck Society and German Research Society within the framework of SFB 494.

GREAT web page of the MPIfR

GREAT arrives at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility

greatThe German REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREATa), a modular dual-channel heterodyne receiver, is a principal investigator (PI) class instrument for the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and one of the two receivers selected for SOFIA's Early Science phase.

greatshipmentSOFIA is a highly modified Boeing 747-SP equipped with a 2.5m diameter telescope. It is able to fly and observe at altitudes up to 45000 feet (13700 m). After final tests, GREAT was shipped to NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility (DAOF) in Palmdale, California, where it arrived on October 5th. First tests after reassembly show that the instrument is in good condition and survived the transport without significant damage. GREAT is going to be integrated into SOFIA in early December, followed by ground-based test observations. First science flights with GREAT are scheduled for February/March 2011.

a) GREAT was built jointly by the MPI for Radioastronomy in Bonn, the I. Physics Institute of the University of Cologne, the DLR Institute for Planetary Research in Berlin and the MPI for Solar System Research in Lindau.


(UGr 2010-10-25)

SOFIA sees “First Light” in flight

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a joint program by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), achieved a major milestone May 26, 2010, when the airborne observatory made its first in-flight nighttime observations. Astronomers call the first observations by a new observatory “first light.”

Scientists are now processing the data gathered with the German-built 2.5-meter telescope and Cornell University's Faint Object infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, also known as FORCAST.

The stability and precise pointing of the German-built telescope met or exceeded the expectations of the engineers and astronomers who put it through its paces during the flight.

jupiterInfrared image of Jupiter from SOFIA’s First Light flight composed of individual images at wavelengths of 5.4 (blue), 24 (green) and 37 microns (red) made by Cornell University’s FORCAST camera. A recent visual-wavelength picture of approximately the same side of Jupiter is shown for comparison. The white stripe in the infrared image is a region of relatively transparent clouds through which the warm interior of Jupiter can be seen.

Full article

(fsc 2010-05-29)