Prof. Dr. Alfred Krabbe

Technology Advisor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg Wagner

Deputy SMO Director (Kalifornien)

Dr. Hans Zinnecker


Dr. Thomas Keilig

Bildungs- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit

Dr. Dörte Mehlert

Deutsches SOFIA Institut
Pfaffenwaldring 29
70569 Stuttgart

Tel. +49 (0)711/685-62379
Fax +49 (0)711/685-63596



SOFIA Science Cycle 1 - German Call for Proposals - Phase 1

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is pleased to invite proposals for SOFIA Cycle 1 observations, which are expected to take place in the time period between August 2012 and August 2013.

The German observation program  is part of the SOFIA Science program. Additional information and results of the US-led  Cycle 1 Call for Proposals can be found on the Cycle 1 Call for Proposalswebsite of our partner organization USRA.

Important: See note about FLITECAM filters, SOFIA Proposal Tool and Reserved Observations Catalog below

Please note the updated version of SOFIA Cycle 1 German Call for Proposals

Key Documents

SOFIA Cycle 1 German Call for Proposals - updated version

SOFIA Observer's Handbook for Cycle 1
(Provided by USRA - Make sure you have the most recent version of the document - do not use earlier versions of the Handbook.)

SOFIA Science Utilization Policies


While the details are dependent on the overall SOFIA schedule, the nominal schedule for the SOFIA Cycle 1 observing program is as follows:

December 22, 2011

Release German Call for Proposals
January 23, 2012 Begin German Proposal Submission
February 6/7, 2012 SOFIA community day at MPIfR, Bonn
(3rd German SOFIA Workshop)
March 2, 2012 - 20:00 MEZ Proposal Submission Deadline
April 16/17 2012 Time Allocation Committee Meeting
Late April 2012 Proposal Selections Announced
August 2012 - August 2013 Cycle 1 observing period



Four instruments will be available for Cycle 1 observations:

  • FORCAST, a mid-IR camera operating in the 5-40 micron range
  • GREAT, a FIR heterodyne spectrometer operating in the 60-200 micron range
  • HIPO, a high speed imaging photometer operating in the 0.3 to 1.1 micron range
  • FLITECAM, a NIR Test Camera operating in the 1-5 micron range.

The HIPO/FLITECAM combination will also be offered.

Update: In alteration from the official Call for Proposals Document, the FLITECAM long-wave length filters (>3.6 µm) will not be available for Cycle 1.

These instruments are described in detail on the web pages referenced above. Detailed Information about instrument configurations and capabilites which will be available for Cycle 1 can be found in the Call for Proposals document and the Observer's Handbook (see above).

SOFIA Proposal Tool (SPT)

All proposals are to be prepared using the SOFIA Proposal Tool, which is based on the Astronomer's Proposal Tool (APT) used for Hubble Space Telescope proposals.

You can download the SPT from the website of the SOFIA Data Cycle System (DCS). Please note that although the DCS website already announces the SOFIA Cycle 1 proposal submission to be open, this is only true for the US and international Call for Proposals. Ingest for the German Call for Proposals will be opened at a later date (see schedule)

(Note: ignore the username/password boxes at the top of the page.)

Pasting in non-ASCII characters from a Word document into the proposal forms has created failures in submission of proposals. Please ensure that the forms contain only ASCII characters. Sometimes non-ASCII characters are not visible on the screen. Problematic are, e.g., Umlaute. We are working on this issue, but it is not clear if a solution will be available before the dead line.

Proposal Templates

For the text part of the proposal we provide template files for LaTeX and Microsoft Word. The use of these template files is not mandatory, but the page limitations given in the Call for Proposals must be complied with.


Observation Planning

Reserved Observation Catalogs (ROCs)

Tables containing the basic information about reserved targets are included as appendices in the Call for Proposals.

Update: Due to a formatting issue with MS Word, the GREAT ROC list in Appendix 4
was not entirely visible in the original CfP. Please refer to the GREAT ROC list in this reformatted Appendix 4.

Completed Observations Table

Duplications of existing observations, obtained during Early Science, need to be justified explicitly.

As the analysis of the GREAT Basic Science data are still under way, the exact exposure times achieved for each target are not currently known to high accuracy. The times reported in the GREAT Basic Science Observations table are the flight-leg durations, which include set-up times and observing inefficiencies.

Exposure Time Estimates for FORCAST and FLITECAM

The exposure times for proposed FORCAST observations should be estimated using the online tool SOFIA Instrument Time Estimator (SITE)available at the DCS. (Note: ignore the username/password boxes at the top of the page.)

Examples of observation planning with FORCAST:

Exposure Time Estimates for GREAT

The exposure times for proposed GREAT observations should be estimated using the online tool SOFIA GREAT Time Estimator.  For a detailed description of the estimation process, please refer to the Guide to GREAT.

Example of observation planning with GREAT:

This example does not consider the GREAT Time Estimator online tool or Cycle 1 specific limitations of the instrument.

Target Visibility Tool (VT)

The target visibility for SOFIA can be determined using the on-line Target Visibility Tool hosted at the DCS. Instructions on using VT are available by clicking the "Help" or "?" icon on the top left of the applet. (Note: ignore the username/password boxes at the top of the page.)

See the German Call for Proposals document for details about permissible target elevations and flight times.

Note: When using SIMBAD lookup in the Visibility Tool for a named target, sometimes the name is either not recognized or the incorrect co-ordinates are returned. For several target names that include the plus (+) or minus (-) sign, the VT/SIMBAD query mechanism does not correctly handle the string of text following the sign. As a consequence, the name is not recognized as a target, or the query defaults to a different target. For any such target name, we suggest querying SIMBAD directly and entering co-ordinates explicitly into VT.

Funding for Germany based Investigators

No funds are available for preparing or submitting observing proposals nor for data reduction or evaluation. Neither are funds available for participation of proposers in SOFIA observation flights. Sorry!

Additional Information

The COSPAR Paper Status of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) (Gehrz et al., 2011) contains information about the telescope and the mission, which could be useful for proposers.

"The Science Vision for the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy" (PDF, 21 MB) presents the overall vision for the mission and highlights key science questions that will be addressed by SOFIA.

We will maintain a page of Frequently Asked Questions by proposing observers.