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Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
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NASA Flying Observatory Makes Observations of Jupiter Previously Only Possible from Space

For the first time since the twin Voyager spacecraft missions in 1979, scientists have produced far-infrared maps of Jupiter using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA. These maps were created from the researchers studies of the circulation of gases within the gas giant planet's atmosphere.
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RE: SOFIA
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Title: Early Science Results from SOFIA, the World's Largest Airborne Observatory
Authors: James M. De Buizer (Universities Space Research Association - Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is the largest flying observatory ever built, consisting of a 2.7-meter diameter telescope embedded in a modified Boeing 747-SP aircraft. SOFIA is a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Centre Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft und-Raumfahrt (DLR). By flying at altitudes up to 45000 feet, the observatory gets above 99.9 percent of the infrared-absorbing water vapour in the Earth's atmosphere. This opens up an almost uninterrupted wavelength range from 0.3-1600 microns that is in large part obscured from ground based observatories. Since its 'Initial Science Flight' in December 2010, SOFIA has flown several dozen science flights, and has observed a wide array of objects from Solar System bodies, to stellar nurseries, to distant galaxies. This paper reviews a few of the exciting new science results from these first flights which were made by three instruments: the mid-infrared camera FORCAST, the far-infrared heterodyne spectrometer GREAT, and the optical occultation photometer HIPO.

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New Molecules and Star Formation in the Milky Way

GREAT Results of the Early Science Flights with SOFIA, the Airborne Observatory

SOFIA, the "Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy", completed its first series of science flights, using the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT). The scientific results are now being published in a special issue of the European journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics" (Volume 542, May 10) along with reports on GREAT's advanced technologies. These results demonstrate the instrument's versatility, include first detections of new interstellar molecules and important spectral lines in space, and address different stages of the star formation process. The GREAT instrument has been developed by a consortium of German research institutes led by Rolf Güsten (Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy).
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Title: Early Science with SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
Authors: E. T. Young, E. E. Becklin, P. M. Marcum, T. L. Roellig, J. M. De Buizer, T. L. Herter, R. Güsten, E. W. Dunham, P. Temi, B.-G. Andersson, D. Backman, M. Burgdorf, L. J. Caroff, S. C. Casey, J. A. Davidson, E. F. Erickson, R. D. Gehrz, D. A. Harper, P. M. Harvey, L. A. Helton, S. D. Horner, C. D. Howard, R. Klein, A. Krabbe, I. S. McLean, A. W. Meyer, J. W. Miles, M. R. Morris, W. T. Reach, J. Rho, M. J. Richter, H.-P. Roeser, G. Sandell, R. Sankrit, M. L. Savage, E. C. Smith, R. Y. Shuping, W. D. Vacca, J. E. Vaillancourt, J. Wolf, H. Zinnecker

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an airborne observatory consisting of a specially modified Boeing 747SP with a 2.7-m telescope, flying at altitudes as high as 13.7 km (45,000 ft). Designed to observe at wavelengths from 0.3 micron to 1.6 mm, SOFIA operates above 99.8 % of the water vapour that obscures much of the infrared and submillimetre. SOFIA has seven science instruments under development, including an occultation photometer, near-, mid-, and far-infrared cameras, infrared spectrometers, and heterodyne receivers. SOFIA, a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Centre DLR, began initial science flights in 2010 December, and has conducted 30 science flights in the subsequent year. During this early science period three instruments have flown: the mid-infrared camera FORCAST, the heterodyne spectrometer GREAT, and the occultation photometer HIPO. This article provides an overview of the observatory and its early performance.

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Boeing 747SP-Based Telescope Discovers Newborn Stars

Its latest discovery has uncovered a cluster of newborn stars within a giant cloud of gas and dust 6,400 light-years from Earth.
The massive stars are still enshrouded in the gas cloud from which they formed, a region located in the direction of Perseus called W3. The Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) instrument was able to peer through the cloud and locate up to 15 massive young stars clustered together in a compact region, designated W3A.

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SOFIA flying observatory
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Sofia flying observatory shares its unique cosmic view

An enormous telescope mounted in the back of a converted 747 jet has come up with a bounty of data taken on the fly.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or Sofia, made 35 flights in the past year, shedding light on the far-flung Orion Nebula and our relatively near neighbour Pluto.
The observatory can "see" in wavelengths of light that no Earth or space-based telescope can detect.

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Flying Telescope Makes An Out-Of-This-World Find

Another reason a flying telescope makes sense is that at 45,000 feet, you're above most of the moisture in the atmosphere. For astronomers, that's important, because water vapour makes viewing the sky at infrared wavelengths impossible.
Like sounds that are too low or too high for our ears to hear, infrared wavelengths are light that the human eyeball can't see. But they're there, and Alycia Weinberg says lots of things glow at infrared wavelengths like "the cocoons of dust that old stars give off as they go through their final stages of life." Those cocoons of dust are where new stars come from.
One of the things astronomers especially like to do with light from distant objects is put it through a spectrometer. That's an instrument that can reveal the kinds of atoms and molecules that are in the light from whatever the telescope is pointed at. David Neufeld, a professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, has big plans for one of SOFIA's spectrometers.

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SOFIA landet am Samstag, 17. September 2011

Die fliegende Sternwarte SOFIA landet am Samstag, 17. September 2011, früh morgens um 7 Uhr am Flughafen Köln/Bonn. Das Flugzeug ist am 18. September 2011 eine der Attraktionen am Tag der Luft- und Raumfahrt des DLR. Der Flug von USA nach Deutschland lässt sich online live verfolgen. Wie erfahren Sie hier im Blog.
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Live broadcast : The Science Behind SOFIA

Show was at 10 am PDT / 1pm EDT on Thursday, May 12, 2011. Join Join Pamela Marcum, project scientist for NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission, as she answers your questions about viewing the universe at infrared wavelengths, the first science flights of the 747SP observatory as well as plans for future science flights.
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Ed ~ Doh! ...started 26 minutes ago



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German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies
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German instrument GREAT begins its scientific observations on board SOFIA

On 6 April 2011, German scientists carried out their first astronomical observations on board the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA. A joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), SOFIA is the world's only operational airborne observatory. Flying at altitudes above 10 kilometres, SOFIA is able to perform observations not possible with ground-based telescopes, due to atmospheric water vapour absorption. The first observations with the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies, GREAT, included spectra of the Omega Nebula (M17), an active star-forming region in the Milky Way, and the galaxy IC 342, located a few million light years away.
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