The proceedings of the 2004 SOFIA Upper Deck Science Opportunities workshop are now posted here.
In response to a call from Dr. Ghassem Asrar of NASA HQ's Science Mission Directorate for "Exploration Science White Papers", we have summarized into a 2-page whitepaper the contributions to the SOFIA SURF Science Opportunities Workshop. The text of the whitepaper is posted here.
In order to investigate the science questions that can be addressed in potential future research experiments on SOFIA's Upper Deck in the twenty years after deployment, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., hosted a SOFIA Upper Deck Science
Opportunities Workshop on June 22-23, 2004.
Goal: The primary product of this workshop was to clearly articulate important science questions that such upper deck experiments would address uniquely. Note that no decision has yet been taken for such future use of SOFIA's Upper Deck and any implementation will be only after normal airborne observatory operations have commenced.
The Scientific Organizing Committee consisted of
Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute),
Hansjuerg Jost (BAER Institute),
Mike Taylor (Utah State University),
Ray Russell (The Aerospace Corporation),
Tim Castellano (NASA Ames Research Center),
Frans Rietmeijer (University of New Mexico Albuquerque),
Hans Stenbaek-Nielsen (University of Alaska Fairbanks),
Leonhard Pfister (NASA Ames Research Center)
The workshop is supported by NASA's APRA program and Earth Science Enterprise research programs. The workshop and its reporting is facilitated by the NASA Ames SOFIA Program Office and will be executed by the SETI Institute and the BAER Institute.
Some examples of potential future upper deck research are outlined here.
Outside view of Upper Deck (top row windows) with future scientists for scale.
Immediately after the 2004 SOFIA SURF Science Opportunities Workshop, NASA gave participating researchers an opportunity to study the reentry of the Genesis Sample Return Capsule from an airborne platform. This provided new opportunities for development of instruments suited for deployment on SURF. The mission was executed as planned. A second mission is being prepared for the January 15, 2006, return of Stardust. More information: here.
Tim Castellano of NASA Ames Research Center reports in the March 2004 issue of Sky & Telescope that a recent partnership agreement between Transitsearch and NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Education and Public Outreach program will allow Transitsearch volunteer observers to compete for the opportunity to fly as outreach partners on SOFIA's modified Boeing 747 jet in 2005 and beyond. Transitsearch is a collaboration of amateur astronomers and was founded by Greg Laughlin and Tim Castellano to find transiting exoplanets.