SOFIA Takes To The Skies

NASA's latest Earthbound telescope is not on the ground, it is in the sky. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, better known as SOFIA, is a unique telescope that is housed in a 747 - yes, a Jumbo telescope inside a Jumbo jet!

SOFIA opens its eye in the sky

Concentrating on observing in the mid to far infrared spectrum, SOFIA wouldn't be able to operate on the ground, and rather than outlay the expense of operating a space-based telescope NASA decided to try out a flight platform. So far the results are a success, with around 80% of the infrared light that a space telescope would receive reaching the 8 foot mirror. At a fraction of the cost of space operation, a single flight of SOFIA observation will provide a much needed service in an observation spectrum that is already oversubscribed.

Find out more information and images from SOFIA at: http://www.sofia.usra.edu/

Image credit: NASA
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