SFAAA members Nathan Mahoney and Héllen Távora have been selected to become Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). This is a huge honor – for its cycle 2 program NASA selected 12 teams from 10 states. Only one team of two people was selected from the entire State of Florida, and both members of the team are members of our club! After their flight opportunities, our Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors will take what they learned back to their classrooms and into their communities to promote science literacy.
SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). SOFIA is a highly modified Boeing 747SP (Special Performance) aircraft. Inside the 747 is a 2.5 meter (100 inch) 19 ton (38,000 pound) infrared (IR) imaging telescope. The jet flies at 540 miles per hour at altitudes up to 45,000 feet (14 kilometers), above 99% of the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere to collect data in the infrared spectrum. SOFIA can be upgraded more cost effectively than rocket launched orbiting telescopes.
The aviation documentary series Mighty Planes recently featured SOFIA on an episode that is available on iTunes. Click here for a brief description and trailer for the episode.
Click here for the latest news and information about SOFIA.