I visited SOFIA's realm at NASA AMES in April 2012 and meet some of the team working for IT . And just like in the fairy stories, I wished upon a star that I could see it for real for at least once in my life. Oh well...
SOFIA, which is the acronym for the "Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy" landed in New Zealand today. It looks like it will spend some time with us from now on. SOFIA is a world class airborne observatory (in other words an aircraft with a telscope inside!) that looks at the visible, infrared and sub-milimeter spectrum. It is the legacy of the famous planetary scientist Dr. Gerard Kuiper (of the Kuiper Belt). SOFIA is now the largest airborne astronomical observatory as well as a test bench for a wide variety of astronomical instrumentation and detector technology.
Who would have thought... telescopes could fly, 400 years ago ... when Galileo first looked through one!!
I am looking forward to learn more about this amazing aircraft, and the contribution that it brings to the development of science.
Let's wish SOFIA a very warm welcome to New Zealand!
Click on this picture to see SOFIA Image Gallery