SOFIA is an 80/20 partnership of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), consisting of an extensively modified Boeing 747SP aircraft carrying a 2.7-meter (106 inch) reflecting telescope (with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters or 100 inches). The aircraft is based at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, Calif. The SOFIA Program Office is at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., which manages SOFIA's science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA; Columbia, Md.) and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI; University of Stuttgart).

Composite image of the nebula RCW 120

Composite image of the nebula RCW 120. The ring-shaped clouds around the nebula were detected by the Spitzer Space Telescope. SOFIA measured the glowing gas shown in red and blue to study the nebula’s expansion speed and determine its age. The blue gas represents gas expanding in the direction toward Earth and the red away from Earth. The expansion is triggering the birth of stellar neighbors at breakneck speeds – and revealing the nebula is younger than previously believed.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SOFIA

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SOFIA Undergoes Annual Maintenance

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, the largest airborne observatory in the world, is in its annual maintenance period at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in California. During the six weeks of down time when there are no science flights, SOFIA will undergo both routine aircraft maintenance and specialized procedures unique to the aircraft. Read full post