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The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, in partnership with the SETI Institute conducts the Education and Public Outreach Program for SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy).

SOFIA is NASA’s next-generation airborne observatory. SOFIAl features a 2.5-meter telescope mounted in a highly-modified Boeing 747SP. SOFIA is based at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, adjacent to Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. SOFIA’s science and mission operations center are at NASA’s Ames Research Center in northern California. SOFIA takes astronomers to an altitude of about 41,000 feet. From this vantage point above 99% of the infrared-absorbing atmospheric water vapor, SOFIA will help study many astronomical problems that are very difficult to study from ground-based observatories, including the nature of galactic black holes, the evolution of galaxies, the chemical composition of interstellar gas clouds, complex molecules in comets, and how stars and solar systems form.

The education and public outreach activities developed by the ASP and the SETI Institute include programs for K-12 teachers, informal educators, college teachers, journalists, and the general public. Educators will have the opportunity to fly aboard SOFIA, interacting with working astronomers and seeing the process of scientific research close up. Other education programs to be implemented after SOFIA operations begin include teacher/astronomer educational partnerships, classroom activities, interactive web-based activities, and live webcasts.

Visit the SOFIA Science Center web site.