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“Redward of the rainbow”– SOFIA at Ames Research Center

15 Oct 2011, 01:04 UTC
“Redward of the rainbow”– SOFIA at Ames Research Center
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I was privileged this week to visit the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – or SOFIA – while it was at NASA Ames Research Center. SOFIA is a Boeing 747 built in 1977 that has been modified to accomodate a 2.5 meter infrared reflecting telescope. This world-class airborne observatory that will complement the Hubble, Spitzer, Herschel and James Webb space telescopes and major Earth-based telescopes.
Flying at altitudes up to 45,000‐feet, SOFIA observes from above more than 99 percent of Earth’s atmospheric water vapor, thereby opening windows to the universe not available from the ground. The Cassegrain-telescope with Nasmyth focus, with a 2.7 meter aluminum-coated primary mirror, weighs approximately 20,000 kg. (Its operating temperature is 240 Kelvin, or -33 degrees Celsius!) The near-, mid- and far- infrared cameras and comprehensive set of spectrometers allow us to see further through the dust into the sky with access to more of the wavelength.

SOFIA is a joint program by NASA and DLR Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Center). Completion of systems installation, integration ...

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