The FORCAST mid-infrared facility instrument and in-flight performance on SOFIA

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Conference Proceeding

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FORCAST has completed 16 engineering and science flights as the "First Light" U. S. science instrument aboard SOFIA and will be commissioned as a SOFIA facility instrument in 2013. FORCAST offers dual channel imaging (diffraction-limited at wavelengths > 15 microns) using a 256 x 256 pixel Si:As blocked impurity band (BIB) detector at 5-28 microns and a 256 x 256 pixel Si:Sb BIB detector at 28-40 microns. FORCAST images a 3.4 arcmin x 3.2 arcmin field-of-view on SOFIA with a rectified plate scale of 0.768 arcsec/pixel. In addition to imaging capability, FORCAST offers a facility mode for grism spectroscopy that will commence during SOFIA Cycle 1. The grism suite enables spectroscopy over nearly the entire FORCAST wavelength range at low resolution (∼140-300). Optional cross-dispersers boost the spectroscopic resolution to ∼1200 at 5-8 microns and ∼800 at 9.8-13.7 microns. Here we describe the FORCAST instrument including observing modes for SOFIA Cycle 1. We also summarize in-flight results, including detector and optical performance, sensitivity performance, and calibration. © 2012 SPIE.

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Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering

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