Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Alfred Krabbe

Barbara Klett

Dr.-Ing. Thomas Keilig

Deputy SMO Director (Kalifornien)
Dr. rer. nat Bernhard Schulz

Standortleiter AFRC & SOFIA Teleskop Manager
Dipl.-Ing. Michael Hütwohl

Standortleiter ARC & und Facility Scientist
Dr. rer. nat. Jürgen Wolf

Technology Advisor
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg Wagner

Bildungs- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Dr. rer. nat. Dörte Mehlert

Deutsches SOFIA Institut
Pfaffenwaldring 29
70569 Stuttgart

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

Frequently Asked Questions

1. The on-line Target Visibility Tool does not appear to recognize some comet names. What is the standard format for specifying comet names?

VT queries the Minor Planet and Comet Ephemeris Service (MPES) maintained at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard. The following examples show how comet identifiers should be entered into the VT target query field: unnumbered comets - "C/2008 Q3", "P/2006 T1" ; numbered periodic comets - "169P/NEAT" (no quotation marks). Due to the way text fields are interpreted, input strings that include names in addition to the designation may fail. For example, "C/2008 Q3 (Garradd)" will be rejected. Warning: using only the name (such as "Garradd"), rather than the designation will always result in an asteroid being returned if an asteroid of that name exists.


2. When I use SIMBAD lookup in the Visibility Tool (VT) for a named target, the name is either not recognized or the incorrect co-ordinates are returned. What is happening?

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.


3. In order to facilitate flight planning, I want to provide multiple possible targets from which only one needs to be observed for my science case. However, the SPT yields only an observing time for all the objects. A number which is likely too high to be accepted. What should I do?

Please explicitly state in your feasibility section that you want to observe only one of the proposed targets.

Also, if there is space in the justification section write something like:

"... observe only one of the ... targets provided ..."


4. What text formats are supported by the SOFIA Proposal Tool (SPT)?

All the text entry boxes in SPT support ASCII only, so please be careful when cutting/pasting text from other applications (e.g. MS Word). Non-ASCII characters can cause problems with saving/opening .spt files. To cut/paste from another file, save a copy of the file first as plain text with Western (ASCII) encoding (with character replacement, if available). Then open the plain text file and cut/paste the converted text into SPT.


5. I saved my proposal but now I can't re-open it. I get an error saying "SPT was unable to load the selected file:...". What is to be done?

Don't panic. The work has been saved, but probably some non-ASCII characters were included in the SPT text boxes (see previous Question). You may try opening the .spt file in a text editor and checking for and removing non-ASCII characters. If the problem persists, please contact the SOFIA Help Desk for instructions.


6. The MS Word template, which I have downloaded from your website gives a maximum of 1 page for the feasibility section. In the Call for Proposals 2 pages are allowed. Which number is correct?

The authoritative document ist the Call for Proposals. The feasibility section can have 2 pages. We have updated the simple Word template.

Further links:


7. In the SPT, when I try to enter the rest frequency of the OH 2.5 THz ground-state transition, this is rejected although the Call for Proposal says the 2.51 THz OH line will be offered on a best effort basis. What should I do?

The Call for Proposal says:

“The GREAT team will offer on a best effort, shared risk mode the M1 channel tuned to the 2.51 THz OH line with a velocity range of +/- 50 km/s LSR”.

The project SPT configurators seemed to take the proxy “2.51” literally, which is – as we know – NOT the rest frequency of the OH ground-state transition (2.5143 THz)

We suggest to fool the SPT with a frequency that is easily recognized to be wrong (2.51000000), and add a note in the proposal (or in a appropriate field in the SPT) about the short coming.