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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Astronomy from the Stratosphere: Results from NASA’s SOFIA Airborne Telescope

Astronomers from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, Northwestern University, and the University of Maryland were on hand at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C., to discuss new scientific results describing how their studies of dust grain polarization and celestial magnetic fields are leading to a better understanding of star formation, theories about how gas cools in the interstellar medium, and how magnetic fields are creating stellar winds around black holes.

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NASA's Flying Observatory SOFIA to Explore Magnetic Universe and Beyond

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, is preparing for its 2018 observing campaign, which will include observations of celestial magnetic fields, star-forming regions, comets, Saturn’s giant moon Titan and more.

This will be the fourth year of full operations for SOFIA, with observations planned between February 2018 and January 2019. Research flights will be conducted primarily from SOFIA’s home base at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. Highlights from these observations include:

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Does New Horizons’ Next Target Have a Moon?

Scientists were already excited to learn this summer that New Horizons’ next flyby target – a Kuiper Belt object a billion miles past Pluto -- might be either peanut-shaped or even two objects orbiting one another. Now new data hints that 2014 MU69 might have orbital company: a small moon.

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Catching the Shadow of a Neptunian Moon

Researchers on the flying observatory SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, are preparing for a two-minute opportunity to study the atmosphere of Neptune’s moon Triton as it casts a faint shadow on Earth’s surface. This is the first chance to investigate Triton’s atmosphere in 16 years.

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Astronomy from 40,000 Feet and 43.5 Degrees South

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, completed its fourth set of observations from Christchurch, New Zealand. The team spent seven weeks operating from the U.S. Antarctic Program facility at Christchurch International Airport, enabling researchers onboard to observe celestial objects that are best studied from the Southern Hemisphere.

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