Scope and Content
Arrangement of the Lawrence J. Caroff Notebooks
Title: Lawrence J. Caroff Notebooks,
Date (inclusive): 1986-2001
Collection Number: PP08.18
Caroff, Larry, 1941-
Number of containers: 4
1.25 cubic feet
Ames Research Center,
Ames History Office
Moffett Field, California 94035
Abstract: The Lawrence J. Caroff Notebooks include personal, handwritten notes from meetings, conferences, workshops, and conversations
with individuals. The collection also includes inserts such as timelines and diagrams relating to the projects being discussed.
The collection covers the years between 1986 and 2001 in which Caroff was employed at both NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett
Field, California and NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The notebooks focus primarily on project management, documenting
Caroff’s involvement with various Infrared Astronomy projects and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Some of the main projects
discussed in the notebooks include Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), Space Infrared Telescope Facility
(SIRTF), and Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO).
Collection is open for research.
Copyright does not apply to United States government records. For non-government
material, researcher must contact the original creator.
NASA Ames History Office, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. PP08.18, Lawrence J. Caroff Notebooks, [Container
number]: [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].
NASA ARC. PP08.18, [Container number]: [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].
Donated by Lawrence J. Caroff in 2008
Lawrence John “Larry” Caroff was born in 1941 in Windber, Pennsylvania. In 1962 he received a BS in Engineering Sciences from
Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. He went on to receive his PhD in Applied Physics in 1967 at Cornell University
in Ithaca, New York. He was employed at NASA from 1967 to 2001. Between the years 1970 and 2006 he published a number of papers
on the topics of astrophysics and infrared astronomy in the Astrophysical Journal, the Journal of Plasma Physics, Nature,
and Proceedings of the Royal Astronomical Society.
In 1967 Caroff gained employment at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California as a Research Scientist. During
this time, he did theoretical research in astrophysics and participated in observations from the Lear Jet Observatory (LJO),
Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO), as well as Mauna Kea and Lick Observatories. In 1980 he was appointed Deputy Chief of the
Space Science Division, and later took on the role of Chief of the Astrophysical Experiments Branch, which carried out research
in infrared astronomy, instrumentation, atmospheric radiometry, and molecular spectroscopy. In 1985, he was appointed Project
Scientist for the KAO, in which capacity he organized and led proposal reviews and served as a liaison to the community of
astronomers using the facility.
In 1988, Caroff relocated to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. During this time, he was Chief of the Infrared, Submillimeter,
and Radio Astrophysics Branch (IR/SubMM/Radio Astrophysics) of the Astrophysics Division. He led a successful Infrared Astronomy
program there for the next 9 years. During this time he was still involved with the KAO and the Stratospheric Observatory
for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
In 1997 he returned to Ames Research Center to serve as Deputy Director during the implementation and developmental stages
of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. In 1999, he assumed the role of Deputy Program Manager and then Program Manager for SOFIA,
managing that project until his retirement from NASA in 2001.
In addition, Caroff has co-organized a number of workshops including the Exozodiacal Dust Workshop at Ames Research Center
(1999), the Pale Blue Dot Workshop at Ames Research Center (2000), and the Debris Disks and Star Formation meeting in Tucson,
Arizona (2002). He has also taught classes in astronomy, astrophysics, and astrobiology at Stanford University, University
of Oregon, San Francisco City College, and the University of California, Berkeley Extension and Stanford Continuing Education
The following terms may be used to index this collection.
Ames Research Center
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Astronomy and astrophysics
Cosmic Background Expplorer (Satellite)
Exozodiacal Dust Workshop (1997 : Ames Research Center)
Infrared Astronomical Satellite
Infrared Space Oservatory
Kuiper Airborne Observatory
NASA Astrobiology Institute
Pale Blue Dot Workshop (1999 : Ames Research Center)
Space Infrared Telescope Facility (U.S.)
Strotospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite
Orbiting Very Long Base Interferometer
Two Micron All Sky survey
Moffett Field (Calif.)
Scope and Content
The Lawrence J. Caroff Notebooks cover the years from 1986-2001 in which the author worked for NASA at both Ames Research
Center in Moffett Field, California and NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. In general, the notebooks contain Caroff’s detailed
personal, handwritten notes from meetings, conferences (including teleconferences and videoconferences), workshops, and conversations
with individuals. Entries are typically prefaced with the date, participants, and subject of discussion. The papers also include
timelines and hand-drawn diagrams related to the concepts being discussed. Some notes are of a technical, mathematic, and/or
scientific nature. Additionally, the notebooks contain inserts including memos, bulletins, agendas, schedules, newsletters,
budget reports, graphs, and related project materials.
This collection documents meetings related to a number of projects. The projects most extensively discussed are the Kuiper
Airborne Observatory (KAO), Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF),
and the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
Caroff discusses the KAO between the years 1986-1995. Users meeting and review meeting notes discuss proposal reviews, finances,
and justification. Flights are discussed in terms of scheduling, maintenance, and planning. Additionally, technical development
notes documenting instruments and telescope configuration are included.
SIRTF is discussed through the years 1986-1995. The science working group meetings, advocacy meetings, progress and project
team meetings, and management team meetings are discussed. Main topics covered are budgets, design concepts, advocacy, justification,
individual responsibilities, project timelines, and proposed flight schedules. (Since its successful launch in 2003, SIRTF
has been known as the Spitzer Infrared Telescope Facility).
Caroff discusses SOFIA throughout the notebooks. Notes from the science consulting group, science working group, science data
cycle, and SOFIA Observatory Joint Management Working Group (SOJMWG) as well as discussions with individuals on the topic
of SOFIA are included. Main points discussed include budgets, cost estimates, design concepts, technical issues, advocacy,
staffing, timelines, and other organizations involved in collaboration including the SETI Institute and the German sector
of the European Space Agency.
From the years 1997-2001, Caroff discusses the NASA Astrobiology Institute in depth, including the institute’s formative stages.
Topics include program planning, advocacy, budgeting and financial matters, as well as technical and program management. The
Astrobiology Institute notes mention partner organizations, both universities and international space organizations, and related
funding and collaboration. Also included are meeting notes from the astrobiology website group, origins subcommittee, and
From 1997-1999, Caroff also discusses the planning and implementation of the Pale Blue Dot Workshop and the Exozodiacal Dust
Workshop and consequent development of Nstars Database.
Additional programs are mentioned in terms of program management. These programs are discussed sporadically through the years
1986-1995. All of these were programs initiated by and managed out of the IR/SubMM/Radio Astrophysics Branch at NASA Headquarters.
These include the Airborne Astronomy Management Operations Working Group (AAMOWG), Infrared Management Operations Working
Group, Infrared Astronomical Satellite, Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite, Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite, Orbiting
Very Long Base Interferometer, Two Micron All Sky Survey, Infrared Space Observatory, and collaboration with the Russian Space
Agency on Radioastron.
Arrangement of the Lawrence J. Caroff Notebooks
The papers are arranged chronologically.