A contribution to characterizing and calibrating the pointing control system of the SOFIA telescope


SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is an airborne observatory that will study the universe in the infrared spectrum. A Boeing 747-SP aircraft will carry a 2.5 m telescope designed to make sensitive infrared measurements of a wide range of astronomical objects. It will fly at and above 12 km, where the telescope collects radiation in the waveƠlength range from 0.3 micrometers to 1.6 millimeters of the electromagnetic spectrum. During flight, a door will be opened to allow clear optical observations from the cavity environment where the telescope is mounted. The telescope pointing control is achieved during science observations by an array of sensors including three imagers, gyroscopes and accelerometers. In addition, throughout alignment and calibration of the telescope assembly, the High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultation (HIPO) is used as a reference instrument. A theoretical concept has been developed to compensate the perturbations in the airborne environment and to correct them within the attitude control loop. A set of Cartesian reference frames is established to describe and manipulate the orientations of the various subsystems, sensor and pointing orientations.
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