HomeAstronomyNASA's SOFIA Observatory: The Flying Telescope

NASA’s SOFIA Observatory: The Flying Telescope

The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) was a telescope mounted on a Boeing 747 SP aircraft that studied infrared light, essentially heat, emitted by objects in the universe. The observatory, fitted with an 8.9-foot-wide (2.7 meters) telescope with a nearly 20-ton mirror, used a door in the side of the aircraft to peer at the sky. 

A collaboration between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (known by its German acronym DLR), the SOFIA project was prematurely ended in 2022 after operating for 12 years. The cancellation came following a recommendation of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to discontinue the mission due to its high cost and insufficient scientific return.

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