Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of SPIE



Publication Date





Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL), in partnership with GATS, Inc., designed, built, and calibrated an instrument to conduct the Solar Occultation for Ice Experiment (SOFIE). SOFIE is the primary infrared sensor in the NASA Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) instrument suite. AIM’s mission is to study polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs). SOFIE will make measurements in 16 separate spectral bands, arranged in 8 pairs between 0.29 and 5.3 μm. Each band pair will provide differential absorption limb-path transmission profiles for an atmospheric component of interest, by observing the sun through the limb of the atmosphere during solar occultation as AIM orbits Earth. A fast steering mirror and imaging sun sensor coaligned with the detectors will track the sun during occultation events and maintain stable alignment of the Sun on the detectors. This paper outlines the instrument specifications and resulting design. The success of the design process followed at SDL is illustrated by comparison of instrument model calculations to calibration results, and lessons learned during the SOFIE program are discussed. Relative spectral response predictions based on component measurements are compared to end-to-end spectral response measurements. Field-of-view measurements are compared to design expectations, and radiometric predictions are compared to results from blackbody and solar measurements. Measurements of SOFIE detector response non-linearity are presented, and compared to expectations based on simple detector models.