GREAT - our far-infrared spectrometer platform on board of SOFIA

GREAT mounted to the instrument flange Zoom Image
GREAT mounted to the instrument flange

The German REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) is a heterodyne instrument platform for high-resolution far-infrared spectroscopy (λ/Δλ > ~107-8) on board of SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.

GREAT detected first light on April 1st 2011, as one of two chosen instruments for SOFIA's basic science phase. A Special Feature of Astronomy & Astrophysics was published in May 2012 ( presenting the first science results of GREAT. Please follow the “Publications” link (in the menu on the right) for a list of publications based on data obtained with GREAT.

Since April 2011, GREAT has conducted over 170 flights, and was part of all southern deployments of SOFIA to Christchurch, New Zealand.

GREAT is a Principle Investigator (PI) class instrument (PI: Jürgen Stutzki, KOSMA; Co-PI: Bernd Klein, MPIfR). This allows to continuously upgrade the instrument with the latest technologies available to the GREAT consortium.

Its current configuration and performance parameters can be found under "Fact Sheet" on the right.

SOFIA – the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and DLR. More information on this unique observatory is provided by the Deutsches SOFIA Institut (

Built into a Boeing 747-SP aircraft, a 2.5m diameter telescope is operated at flight altitudes of 12.5km and above. It thus enables scientific observations at far-infrared wavelengths that - due to the limited transmission of Earth's atmosphere at these wavelengths - are not possible from ground-based facilities.

Proposals – observing with GREAT

GREAT is operated by the consortium only, but per agreement with the SOFIA Director it is available to the communities on a collaborative basis. For details please refer to the U.S. and German CfP homepages, and .

Community proposals will be observed by the GREAT team. The project PI will receive calibrated data in standard CLASS format, raw data will be ingested into the SOFIA data archive at NASA/IPAC IRSA.

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