After eight years of scientific work, the jet-turned-telescope SOFIA is assembling to grab its final flight. However, before its end of service on September 30, the flying observatory is seizing one last trip abroad.
Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). It includes a modified Boeing 747 aircraft with a particular door created into its side that opens mid-flight to reveal observational instruments. Presently, SOFIA is spending its last international deployment in Christchurch, New Zealand. That is where it has spent six prior implementations.
“We are thrilled to be returning to Christchurch to continue to study and discover the infrared universe,” Naseem Rangwala, the SOFIA project scientist, announced in a statement.
Although SOFIA is generally based in Palmdale, California, at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, where it normally withstands four overnight observation flights per week, it travels internationally to identify different parts of the sky. One of its most regular destinations is Christchurch.
“We are committed to delivering a strong finish for this unique astrophysics mission, from a place of strength and pride, by giving our scientific community as much data as possible from the Southern Hemisphere,” Rangwala announced.