Meet NASA SOFIA aircraft

  1. davenn

    davenn 3,889
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    hi all

    just got back from a trip to New Zealand.
    Whilst at Christchurch City Airport, I was pleased to snap a few pics of the NASA SOFIA
    ( Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy ) aircraft that is down in this part of the world to do southern hemisphere astronomy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratospheric_Observatory_for_Infrared_Astronomy

    [​IMG]

    For those of you that havent met SOFIA before, it is the flying observatory that replaced the Kuiper Airborne Observatory ( 1974 - 1995) Which also regularly flew missions out of Christchurch, NZ. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuiper_Airborne_Observatory
    Myself and several other local amateur astronomers were lucky enough to score a flight in the late '80's

    cheers
    Dave
     

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Greg Bernhardt

    Staff: Admin

    Awesome! I had no idea they did this! What a cool idea! What kind of instruments are on board?
     
  4. davenn

    davenn 3,889
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    Hey Greg

    yes its pretty awesome..
    for the SOFIA observatory ( from Wiki)...

    When flying at > 30,000 ft the observatory is above better than 95% of the atmospheric moisture allowing for excellent Infrared astronomy observations.

    In 1999, I visited the telescopes atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. ( another cool place to visit if you ever get the chance). Here is a pic I took of the dome of the NASA IR telescope building. Couldnt get access to that one. The twin Keck telescope guys were much more friendly haha.

    [​IMG]

    At almost 14,000 ft, atop Mauna Kea, IR astronomy was very good but the SOFIA observatory well exceeds those observing abilities.

    cheers
    Dave
     

    Attached Files:

  5. davenn

    davenn 3,889
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    2014 Award

    It was back in July 2013 when I posted this thread with a pic of SOFIA whilst it and I were visiting Christchurch International Airport, in New Zealand.
    Here we are ~ 8 months later and I have just learned of some sad news for the astronomical community.
    Because of NASA budget cuts for the 2014 - 15 financial year, it is most likely that the SOFIA aircraft will be mothballed after 30 Sept 2014 ( financial year end) unless additional funding can be found from interested sources outside of NASA.

    fingers crossed that some rich scientific organisations will step up :smile:

    cheers
    Dave
     
  6. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Ooohh...sweet!
     
  7. I remembering watching a documentary where they've flown on board this plane. It actually is in INFRARED observatory, and when it is in the air it has to be cryo cooled so the telescope won't see itself
     
  8. davenn

    davenn 3,889
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    Yes, we know that .... thats what the "I" in SOFIA stands for :wink:

    Dave
     
  9. I didn't know SOFIA stood for something. ^^ I thought they just chose a cute name or something.

    Anyways you americans are pro at coming up with good acronyms. There is the Messenger spacecraft that was launched to study Mercury. In the greek/roman mythology, Mercury was the messenger, that's why people at NASA chose that name for the probe. As if that name wasn't enough, they managed to make Messenger stand for something. Go figure
     
  10. davenn

    davenn 3,889
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    read the very first post in the thread :wink:

    and OHH, Im NOT American :smile:

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014
  11. jhae2.718

    jhae2.718 1,160
    Gold Member

    NASA is very, very good at coming up with acronyms.
     
  12. Yes, I figured
     
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