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Its seven first-generation instruments, including cameras, spectrographs and a high-speed photometer, together with its future-generation instruments, will enable a wide variety of astronomical science observations. Just like Kuiper did, SOFIA has been created to undertake infrared astronomy in flight, something which is near on impossible to do from the ground due to the water vapor in the atmosphere. The telescope itself is located behind a pressurized bulkhead, so that the rest of the cabin can remain pressurized for the comfort of the scientists on board. Raytheon began work on the adaptation of SOFIA back in 1998. (NASA / Tom Tschida) › View Larger Image SOFIA is also a cutting-edge laboratory for the development and testing of astronomical instrumentation and detector technology by scientists at NASA centers, universities and colleges across the country. Providing commentary for outlets including the BBC, CNBC, and others, she works closely with IATA, AviaDev and various airlines and suppliers to get the inside track on the global marketplace. These can see details about three tenths of an arc second. SOFIA had to fly thousands of miles to catch this very rare event at an otherwise empty spot over the eastern Pacific. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, more concisely named by its acronym SOFIA, is a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). SOFIA made its first official science flight on Nov. 30, 2010. Applications in ground-based astronomy are also expected. (This statement applies only to telescopes that use visible light and make images or photographs.) NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is the world's largest airborne astronomical observatory, complementing NASA's space telescopes as well as major Earth-based telescopes. The telescope onboard this special aircraft is a 2.5m reflector telescope, with a 2.7m primary mirror. (NASA/SOFIA/USRA/FORCAST Team) › View Larger Image Flying at altitudes of between 39,000 to 45,000 feet (12 – 14 kilometers) and above 99 percent of the water vapor in the atmosphere, SOFIA facilitates observations that are unobtainable from telescopes on the ground. The aircraft has been flying since 2010 and is planned to be operational until the early 2030s. ( 2011 ) depend on a small enough image size to fit in the slit of the instrument for time efficient measurements and to achieve their scientific goals. One of the major modifications carried out to the SP was the installation of a 5.5m tall, 4.1m wide sliding door in the aircraft’s fuselage. Unlike space telescopes, which go up into orbit, never to return, SOFIA has the added advantage of being back on the ground at the end of every mission. For the avgeeks, it’s already exciting, as it’s the rare and unusual SP version, a shorter model often used for VIP services. From its outside appearance, the NASA Boeing 747 looks very much like any other. SOFIA’s image size and image jitter goals are derived from a diffraction limited image for wavelengths beyond 25 μ m (1st goal). SOFIA will continue the legacy begun by Gerard Kuiper well into the 21st Century. The plane carries the flags of both the US and Germany on the fuselage, with the insignia of NASA and DLR on the tail. April 2012 For a start, its full of scientists and has an almost 20-ton telescope in the back. The FORCAST instrument collected data on a number of celestial targets including Comet Hartley, the star-forming nebulae Messier 42 in the Orion constellation and massive clouds of interstellar gas and dust in which hundreds of stars are forming such as W3 IRS5 and Sharpless 140. The SOFIA education and outreach program is designed to help enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in U.S. and German communities. SOFIA, when cruising at around 40,000 – 45,0000 feet, flies above this vapor, allowing for crisp, clear images of space as seen in the infrared spectrum. Print Your Own 3D SOFIA Model. This program enabled eight teachers to fly on SOFIA in 2011, with another 26 U.S. educators selected to fly in 2012 and 2013. In addition, instruments like EXES (Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph) as introduced in Richter et al. Because SOFIA can fly virtually anywhere in the world, change instruments between flights, and implement new capabilities, it provides greater adaptability than any space-based telescope. Once validated, the technologies developed will also be useful in future space missions. Photo: The green light on the control panel shows the pilots that SOFIA's door is still open. SOFIA’s telescope is usually referred to as a 2.5-meter meter telescope, rather than 2.7 meters, because the optical design requires that only about 90% of the mirror’s reflecting surface (called the "effective aperture") can be used at any one time. Preliminary scientific operations with the observatory began in 2010, providing astronomers with early access to the visible, infrared and sub-millimeter wavelength bands with optimized performance in the mid-infrared to sub-millimeter range. (Image … Over a blanket of snow covering California's southern Sierra Nevada mountains, NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) flies with the sliding door over its telescope cavity fully open. Recent test results indicate that the SOFIA telescope optics are of better quality than the initial requirement 3 , but image motion at first light is expected to be approximately 2 arcsec rms 4. The next best telescopes are the Keck Telescopes in Hawaii and some telescopes in Chile. NASA.gov brings you the latest images, videos and news from America's space agency. By using SOFIA, scientists hope to better understand how stars and planets are formed, how organic materials necessary for life form and evolve in space, and how the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy influences its surroundings.Technology DevelopmentThe German-built telescope assembly seen through the telescope cavity door in the side of NASA's SOFIA 747SP offers a view of both the primary and secondary mirrors, the latter a small black circle in the center supported by three braces. The program is managed at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., where the aircraft is based. Sofia’s 2.5-meter diameter telescope allows astronomers to access the visible, infrared and sub-millimeter spectrum. As the world's largest flying observatory, NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is a unique space-science asset. Turning SOFIA's telescope to the moon in 2018, the research team picked out two sunlit surfaces: one at high latitudes near Clavius crater and one that was closer to the equator. Caption: This illustration highlights the Moon’s Clavius Crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in the lunar soil there, along with an image of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that found sunlit lunar water. Let us know in the comments. Meet SOFIA – a jetliner specially fitted with a mega-telescope! Images from the SOFIA telescope revealed that the giant red in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere is cooling the planet’s atmosphere. The image was taken by the SOFIA (“Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy”) flying telescope. His work led to the development of NASA's Kuiper Airborne Observatory, a modified C-141 aircraft incorporating a 36-inch reflecting telescope that flew from 1974 to 1995. SOFIA, when cruising at around 40,000 – 45,0000 feet, flies above this vapor, allowing for crisp, clear images of space as seen in the infrared spectrum. The new image the team created shows how SOFIA's work complements the observations of other telescopes. Without the deployment capabilities of SOFIA, these observations could not have occurred. The SOFIA is a joint program of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR - Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt). And it’s no quiet retirement for the airliner either – NASA plans to operate around 100 observation flights a year with SOFIA, each one taking around eight to 10 hours. Although some might have royalty on board, no other 747SP on Earth has a 17-ton infrared telescope mounted in its fuselage. For this, NASA enlisted the help of Raytheon, a specialist intelligence and information company headquartered in Dulles, Virginia. The modified Boeing 747 flew over the Pacific Ocean and pointed its nearly 9-foot telescope at Pluto during an occultation, an eclipse-like event in which Pluto cast a faint shadow on Earth’s surface as it passed in front of a … The image is a composition of infrared data that was captured over the course of eight different SOFIA flights and then woven together with additional infrared data from other telescopes… Leading up to that milestone, SOFIA will undergo alternating periods of science flights and long-term development of the observatory, including installation of upgraded software and hardware control systems, commissioning of science instruments, avionics modernization and routine maintenance of the aircraft. SOFIA features a German-built far-infrared telescope with an effective diameter of 100-inches (2.5 meters). Editor -  Joanna has worked in publishing for more than a decade and is fast becoming a go-to source for commercial aviation analysis. Educators take what they learn during their SOFIA training and flights back to their classroom and their communities to improve curricula and generate interest in STEM-related courses and careers. By then, this grand old 747SP will be well over half a century old. SOFIA's Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program gives middle- and high-school teachers and science museum educators hands-on experience in scientific and astronomical research as they work with scientists during missions on the flying observatory. NASA.gov brings you the latest images, videos and news from America's space agency. The completion of these tasks will result in sustained use of the observatory for many years to come, enabling infrared astronomy of the highest caliber. SOFIA's telescope saw first light on May 26, 2010, returning images showing M82's core and heat from Jupiter's formation escaping through its cloud cover. SOFIA is an 80/20 partnership of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), consisting of an extensively modified Boeing 747SP aircraft carrying a 2.7-meter (106 inch) reflecting telescope (with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters or 100 inches). SOFIA studied Pluto just two weeks before New Horizon’s flyby in July 2015. Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems Journal of Biomedical Optics Journal of Electronic Imaging Journal of Medical Imaging Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS Journal of Nanophotonics Neurophotonics Journal of Photonics for Energy Optical Engineering Ebooks The purpose of SOFIA Is to provide us with never before seen observations of space. Have you ever seen SOFIA? The SOFIA FORCAST mosaic (color) is superimposed on a star field image from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. During its 21-year lifetime, the Kuiper Observatory focused on solar system, galactic and extra-galactic astronomy, and was used in the discovery of the rings of Uranus, a ring of star formation around the nucleus of the Milky Way, luminous infrared galaxies, complex organic molecules in space, and water in comets. Now you can print your own 3D model of SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. An image of stars forming in the W51 stellar nursery. SOFIA is not a new aircraft. The telescope onboard this special aircraft is a 2.5m reflector telescope, with a 2.7m primary mirror. NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Md., and the Deutsches SOFIA Institut in Stuttgart, Germany. (NASA / Jim Ross) › View Larger Image This means that, over its lifetime, the aircraft can have new and improved upgrades to its on board equipment added, as well as receiving the best of care and maintenance for its engines and avionics. At the start of this year, SOFIA returned us with previously unseen images of what NASA calls a ‘star factory’. Be in the know. SOFIA also has observed the occultation of a star by the dwarf planet Pluto. The Boeing 747 is an iconic aircraft, and the 747SP holds a special place in many an avgeek’s heart. With the help of the staff of the NASA Ames SpaceShop Rapid Prototyping Facility, the SOFIA mission team created an eight-piece, 3D-printable model of the modified 747SP aircraft, its telescope and cabin. The telescope weighs 19 tons (38,000 pounds) and is mounted in the rear fuselage of a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. "First light," the first time the telescope collected astronomical data, was achieved on May 25, 2010. using SOFIA Telescope, NASA found water on the Moon's sunlit surface for the first time. During this short-lived event, the planet crossed in front of the star. Information on the SOFIA instruments may be found on their respective instrument overview … Although the aircraft may sometimes experience turbulence, the telescope has been designed to not be affected by this, as its mountings allow it to ‘float’ and avoid the bumps on board. SOFIA's ability to return to Earth after each flight enables frequent opportunities for upgrading and installing new science instruments, permitting ongoing development of new astronomical technology throughout its lifetime.Education and Public Outreach On board SOFIA are the pilots, experts who operate the telescope and, of course, the astronomers who study the stars. Photo: NASA/Jim Ross via Wikimedia Commons The SOFIA telescope is a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), an 80-20% partnership. This allows it to be opened in flight to allow the telescope access to the sky. Please Support us by turning off your adblocker. This is a redirection page In case the javascript redirection does not work, please click on the link below: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/SOFIA/index.html Â, SOFIA - NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. SOFIA continues the legacy of prominent planetary scientist Gerard Kuiper, who championed airborne astronomy in 1968 using a 12-inch telescope aimed through a window of a converted Learjet. Most of the seats on SOFIA have been removed, although it can still carry around 20 people on its scientific flights. Sign up to our daily aviation news digest. Get the latest updates on NASA missions, watch NASA TV live, and learn about our quest to reveal the unknown and benefit all humankind. NASA's airborne observatory, SOFIA, is a Boeing 747SP fitted with a 20,000 kg, 2.5 meter diameter infrared telescope. Further forward, the aircraft houses an education and public outreach area. Being the world’s largest airborne astronomical observatory, the telescope has the ability to produce a higher resolution image, three times higher in … The telescope weighs 19 tons (38,000 pounds) and is mounted in the rear fuselage of a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft.Unparalleled astronomical science capabilitiesThe Orion star-formation complex was taken by the SOFIA telescope using the FORCAST mid-infrared camera. It looks out of a large door in the port side of the aircraft near the tail. But unlike a space telescope, SOFIA can easily come back down to Earth for repairs. The observatory operates at altitudes between 12 and 14 km. The focal point of the telescope is, however, housed in the pressurized section of the plane. A modified Boeing 747 aircraft opens a hatch during flight to reveal a large, 2.7-meter reflecting telescope. In fact, according to Planespotters, it’s of a grand old age of 42.8 years old. But this 747SP is even more special than most. Initial "routine" science observation flights began in December 2010 [12] and the observatory is slated for full capability by … SOFIA's telescope is a delicate gadget, so getting the door closed again is critical. Infrared light from the red supergiant star Antares, emitted more than 550 years ago, was observed by SOFIA using a camera called the Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, or FORCAST, developed by Cornell University. Sofía Suescun ha vuelto a compartir con sus seguidores unas imágenes de lo más sexys…. We use ads to keep our content free. A telescope in the back of a modified 747 jet has snapped images of the Orion Nebula at a colour of light no other observatory in the world can see. Of course, you can’t just install a gigantic telescope on a 747 without some serious modifications. SOFIA captures images of space at an altitude of 38,000–45,000 feet. The 747SP was originally delivered to Pan American World Airways on the 6th May 1977, and was passed over to United Airlines on the 13th of February 1986. By flying high above the clouds, SOFIA can always get a good view. Get the latest updates on NASA missions, watch NASA TV live, and learn about our quest to reveal the unknown and benefit all humankind. Sustained science operations are scheduled to begin in late 2014. It looks out of … It arrived with NASA in October 1997, and has even had its original name restored to its fuselage – Clipper Lindbergh. Telescope using the FORCAST mid-infrared camera of Pluto 's atmosphere capabilities of SOFIA, is a joint program NASA... 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