Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA’s Newest Airborne Observatory Completes First Science Mission

09.12.2010
On December 1, after five months of test flights, SOFIA—NASA’s newest and largest airborne astronomical observatory—completed a 10-hour flight that marked the project’s first mission devoted solely to gathering scientific data.

A 17-ton telescope mounted in the fuselage of a modified 747 jumbo jet, SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) will now embark on a 20-year investigation of the infrared spectrum of the universe, an area never before explored by either satellite- or ground-based observatories.

Luke Keller, an associate professor of physics at Ithaca College, was onboard for the historic mission and is available to talk about the new insights SOFIA will provide on how stars and planets are born, how organic substances form in interstellar space, and how supermassive black holes feed and grow. He can be reached at lkeller@ithaca.edu or (607) 342-0764.

“This flight and the observations we have completed are very exciting because they demonstrate that we have a working observatory, not just a flying telescope,” Keller said. “The images we captured are beautiful and rich in details that we already know are unique and will advance our understanding of the process of star formation. We’re working hard on data analysis and we look forward to sharing those images and our scientific findings over the next few weeks and months.”

The December 1 mission was the first of three flights that will constitute phase one of SOFIA’s early science program. Phase one will employ FORCAST (Faint Object InfraRed Camera), the infrared camera system installed on the telescope. Built at Cornell University’s Center for Radiophysics and Space Research under the direction of Cornell professor Terry Herter, FORCAST is the first of eight instruments that will be installed on the telescope to capture infrared images of celestial phenomenon and measure physical characteristics such as their chemical compositions, temperatures and motion. A co-investigator on Herter’s Cornell team of scientists and engineers, Keller was a key contributor in designing FORCAST’s optics and leading the team that analyzes the data it produces.

“These initial science flights mark a significant milestone in SOFIA’s development and ability to conduct peer-reviewed science observations,” said NASA Astrophysics Division Director Jon Morse. “We anticipate a number of important discoveries from this unique observatory, as well as extended investigations of discoveries by other space telescopes.”

SOFIA is an international collaboration between NASA and the German Aerospace Center, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR). The premiere science flight took off from an Air Force runway in Palmdale, California.

Keith Davis | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ithaca.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

nachricht What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>