NASA'S Airborne Infrared Observatory in flight

NASA'S Airborne Infrared Observatory in flight

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Caption: Photograph of the Gerard P. Kuiper Airborne Observatory, a Lockheed C141 Starlifter aircraft modified to carry a 36-inch infrared reflecting telescope. Infrared (IR) radiation is strongly absorbed by Earth's atmosphere, but an aircraft flying at 39,000 feet (12 kilometres) is above 85% of the atmosphere and more than 99% of the water vapour, the main attenuator of IR radiation. The telescope is installed in the open cavity in the port side of the aircraft, immediately ahead of the wing and is operated from consoles in the pressurised cabin. Retractable, porous spoilers are located in front of the opening to minimise pressure fluctuations within the cavity.

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Keywords: airborne infrared, airborne infrared observatory, airplane, astronomy, astrophysics, infrared, kuiper airborne observatory, observatory, plane airborne, telescope

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