SOFIA Uncovers Clues to the Evolution of Universe and Search for Life

By William Reach, Kassandra Bell, and Joan Schmelz

A compilation of scientific results from The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, reveal new clues to how stars form and galaxies evolve, and closer to understanding the environment of Europa and its subsurface ocean. The airborne observatory carries a suite of instruments, each sensitive to different properties of infrared light, that gives astronomers insights into the flow of matter in galaxies.

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SOFIA to Resume Observations After Extended Maintenance Period

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, has returned from an extended maintenance period and will resume science flights on May 22.

The May 22 mission will be a 10-hour, overnight flight where SOFIA will observe a number of celestial objects including an area of dense gas in the constellation Sagittarius. Researchers will also study the material remaining after a supernova explosion to better understand how these cataclysmic events impact the surrounding area and if these interactions form cosmic rays.

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SOFIA Return to Flight Delayed

Updated March 30, 2018

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, remains in Hamburg, Germany, to address a repair that was discovered during a routine inspection and repair cycle, known as a C-Check.

The observatory was slated to return on Jan. 8, 2018, however, after completion of the inspection and maintenance by technicians at Lufthansa Tecknik AG, a fuel leak was discovered where the outer engine on the left side attaches to the wing. To return to flight operations, the wing fuel-tank leak must be addressed in accordance with safety requirements.

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Eric Becklin's 54 Years of Adventures in Infrared Astronomy

The American Astronomical Society, AAS, awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship to Eric Becklin, senior science advisor for SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. The lectureship is awarded annually based on "a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research, and for his leadership role in turning infrared astronomy into a fundamental tool for understanding astronomy and astrophysics."

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Science Results Archive