NASA conducted first flight of SOFIA mobile observatory

NASA official announces first Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy science mission.

The complex is a stratospheric flying observatory. The purpose of the first flight was to demonstrate the capabilities and potential of the aircraft-laboratory to study our Universe in detail in the infrared range. SOFIA, for short, is to be used mainly for the validation of infrared space telescope science discoveries and for independent experiments and research.

The basis of the observatory is a Boeing 747SP, which was thoroughly reworked and modified. Scientists built in an airplane telescope that can see in the infrared. The diameter of its mirror is 2.54 meters. This device was developed by a NASA expert group with the support of the German Aerospace Center. The first test flight was conducted on November thirtieth at United States Air Force Base in Palmdale, California. SOFIA stayed in the air for ten hours, while bouncing at altitudes between twelve thousand and thirteen thousand seven hundred meters. During a test flight, scientists photographed space with the infrared camera FORCAST, developed by scientists at Cornish University.

The telescope aboard SOFIA can see extraterrestrial objects that range from three tenths of a micron to one hundred and sixty microns. And this, in turn, provides an opportunity to observe the hot interstellar gas cloud and the dust cloud, where young star formation processes are possible. In addition, scientists claim to be able to observe the processes of the birth of a new planet, a new organic compound, as well as the life of a supermassive black hole – its feeding, growth, etc.д.

In the very near future, all the images taken with the telescope on board SOFIA will be placed in galleries dedicated to this technology. And in February of next year, the second phase of the scientific study will be launched. SOFIA telescope is expected to carry a German terahertz receiver.

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