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  • SOFIA Becomes an Observatory
    Posted by Graham Warwick 6:23 PM on May 28, 2010

    It's been a long time coming, but the US-German SOFIA airborne observatory achieved "first light" in the early morning of May 26, performing its first in-flight observations.

    blog post photo
    Photo: NASA

    Operated jointly by NASA and the German Aerospace Center DLR, the modified Boeing 747SP is equipped with a 2.7m reflecting telescope built in Germany. For its first 6h night observation flight from Palmdale, Calif., the aircraft carried FORCAST, a faint object infrared camera built by Cornell University.
    blog post photo
    Photo: NASA

    The aircraft flew to altitudes of 35,000ft, lifting the infrared instrument above most of the heat trapped by water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere. The flight produced images of Jupiter showing heat trapped in its interior pouring out through holes in the clouds.

    blog post photo
    Photo: DLR

    Here's NASA's video of preparations for the historic "first light" flight:

    Tags: os99, NASA, DLR, astronomy

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