Author Topic: SOFIA updates  (Read 27885 times)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: SOFIA updates
« Reply #40 on: 06/07/2016 12:17 PM »
Press release, 7 June 2016

Down under – SOFIA flying observatory with three instruments in New Zealand

SOFIA is in New Zealand for the third time – it visited the country in 2013 and 2015 as well. On 6 June 2016, the joint NASA and German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) flying observatory landed at Christchurch Internationl
Airport at 01:37 CEST (11:37 local time). Ths Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) will embark on the first scientific flight of this year's campaign in the southern hemisphere on 9 June. Equipped with the German-built remote infrared
spectrometers GREAT (German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies) and FIFI-LS (Field-Imaging Far-Infrared Line Spectrometer), as well as with the US FORCAST (Faint Object InfraRedCAmera for the SOFIA Telescope) SOFIA will conduct a total
of 25 observation flights until 20 July 2016.

With these instruments, it is possible to observe molecular and dust clouds in star forming regions. The scientists will be looking in particular at our neighbouring dwarf galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud – visible only in the southern
sky – as well as at the motion of matter in the centre of our Milky Way, to compare the star forming regions in these different types of galaxies.

"During this year's research programme, for the first time three observation instruments will be used. For the scientists, this is a major benefit, as such star-forming regions can be observed in various stages of their development," explains Alois
Himmes, SOFIA Project Manager at the DLR Space Administration. As an example, the spectral 'fingerprints' of atoms and molecules can be measured to determine the gas densities, temperatures and velocities of the clouds. "The full dynamics of star formation
can thus be examined in detail – from huge but less dense molecular clouds, to small but compact clouds and the so-called protoplanetary discs, in the centre of which a new star has already started to shine," adds Himmes.

SOFIA left its home base in Palmdale, California on 4 June 2016 and landed in Christchurch, New Zealand after a refuelling stop in Hawaii. During this transfer flight, FIFI-LS and FORCAST were stowed in special transport racks in the cargo bay of the
Boeing 747SP. GREAT was already attached to the instrument flange of the 2.7-metre diameter telescope installed on the Jumbo jet. "GREAT was used in the recent research flights from Palmdale and will also be used for the first eight flights in New
Zealand," explains Himmes.

More than 100 staff members – including scientists, pilots, engineers, maintenance and security staff – will be in Christchurch until the end of July. SOFIA takes advantage of the long winter nights in New Zealand because, during this time, the water
vapour concentration in Earth's atmosphere is much lower than in the northern hemisphere summer. Even the smallest amount of water vapour in the air absorbs the infrared radiation, and it can no longer be measured by the spectrometers.

Exploring vast molecular clouds with GREAT

For the first time, an upgraded version of GREAT will also be flying in New Zealand – upGREAT. Instead of one detector, like in GREAT, upGREAT operates 14 detectors simultaneously. These are divided into two arrays and can therefore map a molecular
cloud significantly faster. "With upGREAT, the performance and observing efficiency of our instruments is increased approximately 10 times, and new unexplored frequency ranges become accessible," explains Rolf Güsten, head of the GREAT instrument at
the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn. "This year, the investigations will focus on the mapping of atomic oxygen in the Magellanic Clouds and in the galactic centre to study the chemistry of protoplanetary disks and planetary nebula,
as well as the hunt for molecules thus far not detected in space."

FIFI-LS acquires data on star formation

FIFI-LS will be exploring the southern hemisphere for the first time. This instrument observes with substantially more wavelengths than GREAT, and can perform faster large-scale mapping of extensive molecular clouds. This time, FIFI-LS will be used
to study the elements oxygen, nitrogen and carbon in star forming regions and the interstellar medium – the space between the stars both in our Milky Way and in other more distant galaxies. "This allows us to generate a detailed inventory of the material
in the vicinity of the galactic centre," explains Alfred Krabbe, head of the FIFI-LS instrument and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart. "We will also investigate the large star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
This can only be done from New Zealand."

FORCAST closes the campaign

During its nine flights, FORCAST will measure at shorter wavelengths than FIFI-LS and observe in particular dust discs around newly formed stars, but also the dust that has been thrown back into the Universe by old stars and supernovae. On 25 July,
SOFIA will fly back to Palmdale again. Following a period of maintenance of the aircraft and the telescope, another 40 scientific flights will be carried out from California from mid-August until the end of 2016.

Offline Star One

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SOFIA updates
« Reply #41 on: 11/16/2016 06:58 PM »
Flying observatory SOFIA expanding frontiers in solar system and beyond

Quote
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, will soon be studying Neptune’s giant moon, Triton, and following-up on Hubble’s recent sighting of water plumes on Jupiter’s moon Europa. According to recently completed plans for the 2017 observing campaign, about half of the research time for SOFIA will run the gamut from studies of planets to observations of comets and asteroids orbiting other stars and supermassive black holes in the centres of galaxies beyond our own. The other half will focus on star formation and the interstellar medium, the areas of dust and gas in the universe, including a vast turbulent region encircling the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.
A total of 535 observing hours have been awarded for SOFIA’s Science Cycle 5, which runs from February 2017 through January 2018, and the selected programs span the entire field of astronomy from planetary science to extragalactic investigations. Triton, only one-third of a light-year from Earth, will be one of the closest objects studied by NASA’s flying observatory while the farthest observation will study a supermassive black hole approximately 12 billion light-years away.

https://astronomynow.com/2016/11/16/flying-observatory-sofia-expanding-frontiers-in-solar-system-and-beyond/
« Last Edit: 11/16/2016 07:00 PM by Star One »

Offline rocx

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Re: SOFIA updates
« Reply #42 on: 11/17/2016 07:45 AM »
Quote
Triton, only one-third of a light-year from Earth

It's actually one light-hour away from Earth, or 1/3% of a light-year. How could such an error slip into their publication?
Any day with a rocket landing is a fantastic day.

Offline rweede

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Re: SOFIA updates
« Reply #43 on: 11/17/2016 08:19 AM »
Quote
Triton, only one-third of a light-year from Earth

It's actually one light-hour away from Earth, or 1/3% of a light-year. How could such an error slip into their publication?

Even less: It's about 0,045% of a light year (29-30 AU). Astonishing they did not catch that.

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: SOFIA updates
« Reply #44 on: 11/17/2016 02:53 PM »
Quote
Triton, only one-third of a light-year from Earth

It's actually one light-hour away from Earth, or 1/3% of a light-year. How could such an error slip into their publication?

Even less: It's about 0,045% of a light year (29-30 AU). Astonishing they did not catch that.
That came straight from the SOFIA Science Center press release.

https://www.sofia.usra.edu/public/news-updates/nasa%E2%80%99s-flying-observatory-expanding-new-frontiers-solar-system-and-beyond

Offline catdlr

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Re: SOFIA updates
« Reply #45 on: 12/04/2016 09:10 PM »
Inside The Heart Of The World’s Largest Flying Observatory

NASA's Ames Research Center

Published on Dec 4, 2016
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is the largest airborne observatory in the world, capable of making observations that are impossible for even the largest and highest ground-based telescopes. SOFIA is an extensively modified Boeing 747SP aircraft carrying a reflecting telescope with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters (100 inches). SOFIA studies many different kinds of astronomical objects and phenomena, including star birth and death, the formation of new solar systems, black holes at the center of galaxies, and complex molecules in space. SOFIA's instruments — cameras, spectrometers, and photometers — operate in the near-, mid- and far-infrared wavelengths and allow scientists onboard to study the solar system and beyond while flying at 38,000- 45,000 feet. Learn more: http://go.nasa.gov/2gQ5AFF

NASA Ames Research Center is located in the heart of California's Silicon Valley. Follow us on social media to hear about the latest developments in space, science and technology.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWGfMOJSa-c?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline bolun

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Re: SOFIA updates
« Reply #46 on: 05/06/2017 06:50 PM »
May 2, 2017

SOFIA Confirms Nearby Planetary System is Similar to Our Own

NASA’s flying observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, recently completed a detailed study of a nearby planetary system. The investigations confirmed that this nearby planetary system has an architecture remarkably similar to that of our solar system.

Located 10.5 light-years away in the southern hemisphere of the constellation Eridanus, the star Epsilon Eridani, eps Eri for short, is the closest planetary system around a star similar to the early sun. It is a prime location to research how planets form around stars like our sun, and is also the storied location of the Babylon 5 space station in the science fictional television series of the same name.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/sofia-confirms-nearby-planetary-system-is-similar-to-our-own

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC)

Offline catdlr

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Re: SOFIA updates
« Reply #47 on: 11/15/2017 09:59 PM »
HIRMES: SOFIA's latest high-resolution Mid-infrared Spectrometer

NASA Goddard
Published on Nov 15, 2017

A team from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is developing a new, third-generation facility science instrument for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA.

The High-Resolution Mid-InfrarEd Spectrometer (HIRMES), is a spectrometer optimized to detect neutral atomic oxygen, water, as well as normal and deuterated (or "heavy") hydrogen molecules at infrared wavelengths between 25 and 122 microns (a micron is one-millionth of a meter). These wavelengths are key to determining how water vapor, ice, and oxygen combine at different times during planet formation and will enable new observations of how these elements combine with dust to form the mass that may one day become a planet.

HIRMES will provide scientists with a unique opportunity to study this aspect of planetary formation, as SOFIA is currently the only NASA observatory capable of accessing these mid-infrared wavelengths. Infrared wavelengths between 28 and 112 microns do not reach ground-based telescopes because water vapor and carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere block this energy. SOFIA is able to access this part of the electromagnetic spectrum by flying between 39,000 feet and 45,000 feet, above more than 99 percent of this water vapor.

Read the web story – https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-selects-next-generation-spectrometer-for-sofia-flying-observatory

Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger
Francis Reddy (Syneren Technologies): Science Writer
Rob Andreoli (AIMM): Videographer
John Caldwell (AIMM): Videographer
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Animator

Music credit: "Sparkle Shimmer" and "The Orion Arm", both from Killer Tracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SFPwMIJFBA?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline Star One

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Re: SOFIA updates
« Reply #48 on: 05/31/2018 08:01 PM »
SOFIA resumes observations after extended maintenance

Quote
WASHINGTON — A NASA airborne observatory that enjoys unusual protection from regular reviews resumed science flights recently after an extended maintenance period.

http://spacenews.com/sofia-resumes-observations-after-extended-maintenance/

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