Short Science

As described in a “Dear Colleague” letter issued on June 1, 2008, the SOFIA project is pleased to announce the opportunity for a limited number of members of the astronomical community to join in the teams conducting the very first scientific observations with the SOFIA observatory.

Two periods of initial science observations are planned to take place during 2009, making up SOFIA’s “Early Science” phase. Initially, two, approximately 2 week long, periods of nominally 3 limited-duration science flights -- “Short Science” -- will be performed, one period each with the two Early Science instruments FORCAST and GREAT. (See the instrument web pages for details).

Early Science is intended to demonstrate the unique scientific potential of SOFIA to the astronomical community and to provide the first opportunities for direct involvement by the general astronomical community. In the two Short Science segments SOFIA will acquire flux-calibrated images and spectroscopy of astronomical objects in the mid- to far-infrared, while possibly constrained by the incomplete observatory characterization available at this early phase. The detailed target selection depends on the final timing and schedule of the Short Science observations, but is, at the current time, expected to center on the inner Galaxy, including the Galactic Center region

We are now seeking a small number of members from the astronomical community to complement the instrument teams in the planning and analysis of these early observations. These community members will join (one of) the two instrument teams for the duration of the Short Science projects and, under the leadership of the Instrument PI participate in the planning and analysis of the observations. All members of the Short Science teams shall be coauthors of refereed publications resulting from the Short Science flights. Due to the limited crew size permitted at this early stage of the SOFIA science operations, the selected community members will not participate in the actual flights and data acquisition. It is expected that between one and three community members per instrument will be selected through this solicitation. The details of the Short Science team interactions are regulated by a Data Rights agreement signed by the instrument PIs, the SOFIA management, as well as NASA and DLR officials.

All qualified astronomers, independent of affiliation, are invited to submit white papers in response to this solicitation.

A limited amount of funding will be available to the selected, US based, community members. The expected nominal funding level corresponds to about one months salary support (including overheads) in addition to travel and/or publication costs.

To respond to this opportunity, please submit a short White Paper, focusing on the experiences, skills and benefits you can bring to the Short Science teams and observations. The submitted white paper shall include an abstract (up to ~300 word) followed by a Scientific Justification (3 pages including figures and references) and a short biography, including relevant publications (1 page). Deadline for submission is August 15, 2008.

Details of this solicitation can be found in the Dear Colleague Letter. Further details of data rights, roles and responsibilities can be found in the Data Rights and Usage Agreement for SOFIA Short Science Phase.

Questions regarding this solicitation may be addressed to sofia_help@sofia.usra.edu

Important dates for the SOFIA Short Science Community Member Solicitation:

Release of Call for White Papers: June 2, 2008
Submittal deadline for White Papers: August 15, 2008
Notification of Selections: October 15, 2008.
First Short Science Flight (preliminary): May 2009

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