Friday, May 28, 2010

Congratulations to SOFIA

Congratulations are in order to the team behind NASA's new airborne observatory SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, which had "first light" earlier this week.

This new flying observatory sports a 2.5 meter telescope. One of its instruments, FORCAST (Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope), was first tested on Hale Telescope back in 2006. It was built by Terry Herter and his team at Cornell.

Below is FORCAST, before it was attached to the telescope's Cassegrain cage.

Below, right is how FORCAST saw Jupiter:

According to their news release:

"The crowning accomplishment of the night came when scientists on board SOFIA recorded images of Jupiter at wavelengths unobservable by either ground-based observatories or current space telescopes," said USRA SOFIA senior science advisor Eric Becklin. “The composite image from SOFIA shows heat, trapped since the formation of the planet, pouring out of Jupiter's interior through holes in its clouds.”

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