SOFIA airborne observatory

SOFIA airborne observatory

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Caption: SOFIA airborne observatory installed in its 747SP aircraft. The mounting structure (blue) is at upper left. SOFIA is the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. It is a 2.5-metre infrared telescope that is flown in an aircraft to the stratosphere, some 10-50 kilometres above sea level. This allows the detection of infrared light that is normally blocked by water vapour lower in the atmosphere. SOFIA was jointly developed from 1996 by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The first observations took place in May 2010. Photographed during SOFIA's Trans-Atlantic flight of September 2011.

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