Latest in Science

Image credit:

NASA and Germany extend the life of their flying observatory

SOFIA is an infrared telescope in a Boeing 747.
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

NASA

SOFIA, the airborne telescope that backed up New Horizons in studying Pluto, will go on flights to observe our universe until the end of 2020. NASA and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or DLR) have extended their joint project for four more years. SOFIA is a 17-ton infrared telescope with an 8.9-foot-diameter primary mirror fitted into a Boeing 747SP wide-body plane. A hatch on the aircraft slides open so the telescope can get a view of the sky. And since it operates at altitudes of about 41,000 feet, it can make its observations above most of the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere, which blocks some infrared waves.

SOFIA has flown at least 250 10-hour flights since 2011, studying the atmosphere, comets, planets and stars. While the new contract is only until 2020, the aircraft itself was designed to last until 2030. NASA and DLR will sit down again in 2018 to determine whether they should extend the partnership even further.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

The 2020 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

The 2020 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

View
Google Assistant can finally schedule your smart lights

Google Assistant can finally schedule your smart lights

View
Lenovo's Google-powered Smart Clocks hit all-time low prices for Black Friday

Lenovo's Google-powered Smart Clocks hit all-time low prices for Black Friday

View
The Morning After: What you need for ray-tracing in 'Cyberpunk 2077'

The Morning After: What you need for ray-tracing in 'Cyberpunk 2077'

View
HomePod's first jailbreak opens the door to unofficial features

HomePod's first jailbreak opens the door to unofficial features

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr