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Astronomy from the Stratosphere: NASA’s SOFIA Mission

Dr. Dana BackmanMarch 6, 2013

Dr. Dana Backman (Director of Education & Public Outreach, SOFIA Project, NASA Ames Research Center)

Listen (mp3 file, 28.1 MB)

Why did NASA buy a used passenger airliner, cut a 10′ x 10′ hole in the fuselage, add a roll-back door, and install a 17-ton telescope inside? Dr. Backman introduces us to the engineering marvel called SOFIA — the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. This remarkable airborne telescope began scientific research flights in 2010 and is already returning exciting discoveries about the birth of stars, interstellar chemistry, the atmospheres of giant planets, the environment around supermassive black holes, and other branches of astronomy.