NASA’s aircraft SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) is in Christchurch and is offering you one chance to tour, between 11am and 3pm on Saturday July 20. The last boarding time is 2:30pm.
Find out all the details, including when tickets are available, for a free tour on Eventbrite.
What is SOFIA?
The Flying Observatory
SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a 2.7-meter (106-inch) reflecting telescope (with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters or 100 inches). Flying into the stratosphere at 38,000-45,000 feet puts SOFIA above 99 percent of Earth’s infrared-blocking atmosphere, allowing astronomers to study the solar system and beyond in ways that are not possible with ground-based telescopes. SOFIA is made possible through a partnership between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
The observatory’s mobility allows researchers to observe from almost anywhere in the world, and enables studies of transient events that often take place over oceans where there are no telescopes. For example, astronomers on SOFIA studied eclipse-like events of Pluto, Saturn’s moon Titan, and Kuiper Belt Object MU69, the next flyby target for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, to study the objects’ atmospheres and surroundings.