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Sofia flying telescope gives unique view of Orion

A telescope in the back of a modified 747 jet has snapped images of the Orion Nebula at a colour of light no other observatory in the world can see.
They are the first results from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (Sofia), designed to capture colours blocked by Earth's atmosphere.
The images show the star-forming region in unprecedented clarity.

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NASA's Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (or SOFIA) completed its first science flight on Dec. 1, demonstrating the airborne observatory's ability to make observations not possible from ground-based telescopes. Five more flights are planned over the coming months in the observatory's Short Science series.

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Searching the Heavens for Newborn Stars

SOFIA, NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is ready to take off into the heavens for its first science flight this week.
Two astronomy professors, Mark Morris of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and Paul Harvey of the University of Colorado at Boulder will use the Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST), a mid-spectrum infrared camera developed by Terry Herter of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. to learn more about star formation from the airborne observatory.

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SOFIA Image Gallery

sofJup14.jpg
Credit NASA

Composite infrared image of Jupiter from SOFIA's first light flight at wavelengths of 5.4 (blue), 24 (green) and 37 microns (red), made by Cornell University's FORCAST camera during the SOFIA observatory's "first light" flight. A recent visual-wavelength picture of approximately the same side of Jupiter is shown for comparison. The white stripe in the infrared image is a region of relatively transparent clouds through which the warm interior of Jupiter can be seen.

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NASA's airborne observatory prepares for debut flight featuring Cornell-made instrument

When the first photons meet the 2.7-meter telescope aboard SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, in flight May 25, it will be the long-awaited result of more than 13 years of work by hundreds of scientists and engineers around the world.
It will also be the beginning of a new era in astronomy, scientists say. And it will be a particularly sweet moment for Cornell professor of astronomy Terry Herter, leader of the team that designed and built FORCAST (the Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope), the first instrument to fly on the observatory.

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Nasa has unveiled a powerful new tool in its quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe - a giant telescope mounted inside a jumbo jet called Sofia.
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SOFIA Telescope assembly activated in flight

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy completed a telescope assembly activation test during an almost six-hour flight Jan. 15. Functions such as movement and stability of the telescope were examined using the telescope's control system software, said an official release Thursday.
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Most astronomers wouldn't dream of opening their observatory's doors in 100 mph winds. Yet NASA's new SOFIA telescope recently flew in an airplane at 250 mph with doors wide open.
On Dec. 18th, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), flew in a modified Boeing 747 at 15,000 feet for one hour and 19 minutes. For two minutes of that time, the door by the telescope was wide open.

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NASA Flight Tests Unique Jumbo Jet With Opening In Side; Plane's Airborne Telescope Will Be Used to Study Cosmos

A NASA jumbo jet that will help scientists unlock the origins of the universe with infrared observations reached a milestone Friday when doors covering the plane's telescope were fully opened in flight.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, a modified 747 jet known as SOFIA, flew for one hour and 19 minutes, which included two minutes with the telescope's doors fully opened. The goal was to allow engineers to understand how air flows in and around the telescope. It was the first time outside air has interacted with the part of the plane that carries the 98-inch infrared telescope.

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