The SOFIA Water Vapor Monitor (WVM) is a heterodyne radiometer designed to determine the integrated amount of water vapor along the telescope line of sight and directly to the zenith. The basic technique that was chosen for the WVM uses radiometric measurements of the center and wings of the 183.3 GHz rotational line of water to measure the water vapor. The WVM reports its measured water vapor levels to the aircraft Mission Controls and Communication System (MCCS) while the SOFIA observatory is in normal operation at flight altitude. The water vapor measurements are also available to other scientific instruments aboard the observatory. The electrical, mechanical and software design of the WVM are discussed.
Four 58 X 62-element Si:As impurity-band-conduction (IBC) detector arrays produced by the Hughes Technology Center were tested to evaluate their usefulness for space- and ground- based astronomical observations. PMOS circuitry was used in the multiplexers to improve low-temperature noise performance. Laboratory tests at background levels simulating those expected on space-based observing platforms were combined with ground-based telescope IR observations. The devices have shown read noise levels below 120 rms e-, dark currents below 10 e-/s, and detective quantum efficiencies of 20%.