Posted by Luke Keller at 2:10PM
| 1 comment
FORCAST is now bolted to the telescope assembly on SOFIA! George Gull and Chuck Henderson, assisted by the engineering team at DAOF, have successfully installed the camera system. The process of lifting the instrument from the ground, rolling it onto the aircraft on its cart, and attaching it to the telescope went very smoothly. On Monday they restored all of the electrical cables and Terry Herter joined them as they powered all systems up. Everything is working well. I think it looks smaller on the telescope than it did in the lab, but that's not surprising since it is now attached to a 20-ton telescope!
The next step towards the first-light flight is to align the FORCAST camera optics with the telescope optical system and measure image quality while observing bright stars with the aircraft parked on the ground. Once we complete these so called line-operations (or "line-ops"), we will conduct rehearsals of our in-flight tests and observations. Flight time on SOFIA is very expensive so any work that we can do on the ground, or that we can make more efficient by practicing on the ground, will save us time (and therefore $$) during the flights. I will travel to DAOF next week to help with line-ops and set up the data processing and analysis software that my students and I have developed. I will also prepare for processing the data taken during the first light flight. Looks like FORCAST will be flying soon...