FIrst science observations with SOFIA/forcast: The forcast mid-infrared camera

T. L. Herter, Cornell University
J. D. Adams, Cornell University
J. M. De Buizer, Universities Space Research Association
G. E. Gull, Cornell University
J. Schoenwald, Cornell University
C. P. Henderson, Cornell University
L. D. Keller, Ithaca College
T. Nikola, Cornell University
G. Stacey, Cornell University
W. D. Vacca, Universities Space Research Association


The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) completed its first light flight in May of 2010 using the facility mid-infrared instrument FORCAST. Since then, FORCAST has successfully completed 13 science flights on SOFIA. In this Letter, we describe the design, operation, and performance of FORCAST as it relates to the initial three Short Science flights. FORCAST was able to achieve near-diffraction-limited images for λ > 30μm allowing unique science results from the start with SOFIA. We also describe ongoing and future modifications that will improve overall capabilities and performance of FORCAST. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.