The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, on June 22 to conduct seven weeks of observing flights from the Southern Hemisphere.
Researchers will study targets of interest including Supernova 1987A, as well as star formation in two nearby galaxies called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. SOFIA will also chase the shadow of a Kuiper Belt Object called MU 69, New Horizons spacecraft's next flyby target, as it passes in front of a background star, to better understand its structure, and more.
This flight series is the observatory’s fourth annual deployment to Christchurch. The team deploys to this location to study celestial objects that are best observed from southern latitudes, while taking advantage of the long dry winter nights while it is summer at SOFIA's home base at Armstrong Flight Research Center’s Building 703 in Palmdale, California.