NASA and Germany prolong the lifetime of their flying observatory

NASA and Germany extend the life of their flying observatory

NASA

SOFIA, the airborne telescope that backed up New Horizons in learning Pluto, will go on flights to watch our universe till the top of 2020. NASA and the German Aerospace Middle (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or DLR) have prolonged their joint undertaking for 4 extra years. SOFIA is a 17-ton infrared telescope with an eight.9-foot-diameter main mirror fitted right into a Boeing 747SP vast-physique aircraft. A hatch on the plane slides open so the telescope can get a view of the sky. And because it operates at altitudes of about forty one,000 ft, it could possibly make its observations above a lot of the water vapor within the Earth’s environment, which blocks some infrared waves.

SOFIA has flown at the very least 250 10-hour flights since 2011, learning the environment, comets, planets and stars. Whereas the brand new contract is simply till 2020, the plane itself was designed to final till 2030. NASA and DLR will sit down once more in 2018 to find out whether or not they need to prolong the partnership even additional.

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