Abstract

Infrared spectroscopic observations from NASA-operated aircraft constitute a rapidly maturing application of FTS methods initially developed for ground-based telescopes. Coupled to airborne telescopes up to 36 in. in diameter, these experiments are now producing new astronomical results as exciting and unexpected as those derived from Connes's first high resolution planetary observations at mountain-top observatories. This review examines the special problems of the ir spectral region that led to aircraft observatories and includes a brief survey of the facilities themselves and their modes of operation. The special problems of operating FTS devices on aircraft and the scientific results achieved with current capabilities are discussed. Finally, airborne observations are compared to the ultimate in high-altitude observing platforms: earth-orbiting cooled and uncooled telescopes carried by the space shuttle vehicle.

© 1978 Optical Society of America

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