Contributed Talk - Splinter SOFIA

Tuesday, 12 September 2023, 14:00   (H 3006)

SOFIA's Legacy and What Comes Next

Bernhard Schulz
DSI University of Stuttgart, NASA Ames Research Center

Infrared light is a key part of the electromagnetic spectrum for studying the formation and evolution of stars, planets, galaxies, and the interstellar medium. As most infrared wavelengths are absorbed by our planet's atmosphere, astronomical infrared observations, especially in the far-infrared (~30-300µm), have been limited to space-, balloon-, or aircraft-observatories. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), was the last observatory of a truly "golden age" of the discipline, which included major space missions such as IRAS, ISO, Spitzer, and Herschel, as well as the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO). This talk will give a short overview over SOFIA’s unique imaging, spectroscopic, and polarimetric capabilities and a selection of its major scientific results that emerged from its operational lifetime between 2010 and 2022. Furthermore it will discuss, where the unexpected and abrupt end of the project leaves the field in its historical context and will look at future observational possibilities.