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The Stratospheric THz Observatory (STO)

Walker, C. et al., 2010, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes III, 7733, 77330N | View on ADS (2010SPIE.7733E..0NW) | Access via DOI

Abstract

The Stratospheric TeraHertz Observatory (STO) is a NASA funded, Long Duration Balloon (LDB) experiment designed to address a key problem in modern astrophysics: understanding the Life Cycle of the Interstellar Medium (ISM). STO will survey a section of the Galactic plane in the dominant interstellar cooling line [C II] (1.9 THz) and the important star formation tracer [N II] (1.46 THz) at ~1 arc minute angular resolution, sufficient to spatially resolve atomic, ionic and molecular clouds at 10 kpc. STO itself has three main components; 1) an 80 cm optical telescope, 2) a THz instrument package, and 3) a gondola [1]. Both the telescope and gondola have flown on previous experiments [2,3]. They have been reoptimized for the current mission. The science flight receiver package will contain four [CII] and four [NII] HEB mixers, coupled to a digital spectrometer. The first engineering test flight of STO was from Ft. Sumner, NM on October 15, 2009. The ~30 day science flight is scheduled for December 2011.

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