The Stratospheric THz Observatory (STO)

C. Walker, C. Kulesa, P. Bernasconi, H. Eaton, N. Rolander, C. Groppi, J. Kloosterman, T. Cottam, D. Lesser, C. Martin, A. Stark, D. Neufeld, C. Lisse, D. Hollenbach, J. Kawamura, P. Goldsmith, W. Langer, H. Yorke, J. Sterne, A. SkalareI. Mehdi, S. Weinreb, J. Kooi, J. Stutzski, U. Graf, M. Brasse, C. Honingh, R. Simon, M. Akyilmaz, P. Puetz, Mark Wolfire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

34 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGround-Based and Airborne Telescopes III
EditionPART 1
StatePublished - 2010
EventGround-Based and Airborne Telescopes III - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Jun 27 2010Jul 2 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
NumberPART 1
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherGround-Based and Airborne Telescopes III
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Balloon-borne
  • Interstellar medium
  • Suborbital
  • THz astronomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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