Latest in Science

Image credit: NASA

NASA and Germany extend the life of their flying observatory

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

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
62 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

The 2019 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

The 2019 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

View
What's on TV this week: 'Shenmue III'

What's on TV this week: 'Shenmue III'

View
This $375 Soleil blow dryer is just $65 today

This $375 Soleil blow dryer is just $65 today

View
iFixit pulls apart the 16-inch MacBook Pro and sees little has changed

iFixit pulls apart the 16-inch MacBook Pro and sees little has changed

View
Apple's latest iOS 13 update fixes Mail, background download glitches

Apple's latest iOS 13 update fixes Mail, background download glitches

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr