The 2.5-meter mirror on NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy telescope was cleaned recently in preparation for its first full cycle of science observations. Telescope technicians at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility used water, a mild detergent and a small filtered blower to remove dust and other material that had adhered to the mirror's surface.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, a joint program between NASA and the German Aerospace Center DLR, is set to begin its first full cycle of science flights starting in November 2012 and extending through December 2013. SOFIA’s Science Mission Operations Director Erick Young today announced the list of researchers who have been awarded time to study the universe with this unique infrared observatory.
Information about the star formation process, as well as early tests of the optical quality and stability of the telescope in NASA's Statospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), were provided by analyses of infrared images of the Sharpless 140 nebula performed by Paul Harvey of the University of Texas at Austin with collaborators from Cornell University, Ithaca College, and the SOFIA scientific staff. The results of their work were published in a May 2012 special SOFIA-dedicated issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Research by SOFIA scientist John Vaillancourt (Universities Space Research Association, NASA Ames Research Center, Calif.) and Brenda C. Matthews (Herzberg Institute, National Research Council of Canada, Victoria, B.C., Canada) on interstellar clouds in the Milky Way Galaxy was recently published in the The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, a venue for presentation of very large data sets.
In fall 2010, displays depicting the history and achievements of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) were installed at three Northern California venues – NASA Ames’ Exploration Center, the Ames Aerospace Encounter, and the Hiller Aviation Museum. One year later, more than 150,000 guests have seen the displays and had an introduction to astronomy at infrared wavelengths.
The Astrophysical Journal, a leading U.S. astronomy research publication, issued a special edition of its Letters volume on April 20 with papers about observations made with SOFIA.
SOFIA is a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that carries a telescope with a 100-inch (2.5-meter) diameter reflecting mirror that conducts astronomy research not possible with ground-based telescopes. By operating in the stratosphere at altitudes up to 45,000 feet, SOFIA can make observations above the water vapor in Earth's lower atmosphere.
NASA has selected a science instrument upgrade to the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) airborne observatory. The instrument, the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC), will provide a sensitive, versatile and reliable imaging capability to the SOFIA user community. The upgrade involves two proposals that will allow the observatory to measure the structure and strength of magnetic fields in diverse objects throughout the universe, such as star-forming clouds and galaxies.
Researchers using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) have captured infrared images of the last exhalations of a dying sun-like star.
The object observed by SOFIA, planetary nebula Minkowski 2-9, or M2-9 for short, is seen in this three-color composite image. The SOFIA observations were made at the mid-infrared wavelengths of 20, 24, and 37 microns. The 37-micron wavelength band detects the strongest emissions from the nebula and is impossible to observe from ground-based telescopes.
SOFIA is the subject of the new "Destination Innovation" video series produced at NASA Ames. Episode 2, "Window to the Hidden Universe," was produced by the Ames Video team with support from the Dryden Public Affairs video staff. The video is available on YouTube and VMIX.
To inspire and encourage young girls to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics professions, NASA has expanded the Women@NASA program with a second round of honorees to showcase at its website.
Twenty-six educators from the United States have been selected for research flights aboard SOFIA, NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. As participants in the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, the educators will partner with professional astronomers using SOFIA for scientific observations in 2012 and 2013.
Researchers using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) have captured new images of a recently born cluster of massive stars named W3A. The cluster is seen (inset) lurking in the depths of the large gas and dust cloud from which it formed. The larger image shows the overall structure of the W3 region, lying 6,400 light years away in the direction of the constellation Perseus, as seen at near-infrared wavelengths by the Spitzer Space Telescope.
A new image from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) shows a complex distribution of interstellar dust and stars in the Orion nebula. Interstellar dust, composed mostly of silicon, carbon and other heavy elements astronomers refer to generically as “metals,” plus some ice and organic molecules, is part of the raw material from which new stars and planets are forming.
The opportunity to fly on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is limited to mission critical staff, such as engineers, scientists, and support and safety crew, as well as guest investigators. Thus, seats on the world’s largest airborne observatory are extremely limited.
A new image from NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, provides the highest resolution mid-infrared image taken to-date of the massive star formation region in our galaxy known as W40.
“SOFIA Flight 86 must rank as the most exciting observing nights that I have ever done!” said Graham M. Harper, an astrophysicist from the School of Physics, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, after his all-night expedition on Nov. 9/10. That's an impressive statement from a researcher who focuses on stellar activity in cool stars and routinely uses a variety of ground-based and space telescopes to capture energy ranging from the ultraviolet to centimeter radio wavelengths.
The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) landed at NASA's Ames Research Center for tours by NASA employees, members of the media and the general public. Housing a 17-ton telescope assembly, the highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft is the largest flying telescope in the world. More than 6500 people visited SOFIA during her visit.
NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, departed Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Sept. 23, 2011 at 3:15 p.m. local time, en route to its home base at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Center in Palmdale, Calif. The flight to Palmdale concludes SOFIA's first international deployment.
SOFIA is a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that carries a telescope with a 100-inch (2.5-meter) reflecting mirror that conducts astronomy research not possible with ground-based telescopes.