Cornell University's Terry Herter, principal investigator for the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST), is interviewed by a German news reporter while other media representatives and guests await their turn inside the SOFIA flying observatory during the SOFIA science and education media day June 8.
Thomas Keilig, telescope assembly manager for German SOFIA Institute, points out features of the 100-inch primary mirror of the SOFIA telescope to Airborne Astronomy Ambassador Kathy Fredette of Desert Willow Intermediate School in Palmdale, Calif The astronomical science and education programs of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, were in focus June 8 during a media day at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. Numerous speakers detailed the SOFIA program, its science missions and educational-outreach activities to members of both the professional news media and followers of the Twitter social media website.
The SOFIA flying observatory has completed its first series of science flights, and a new series of 23 flights is under way, including those on which educators selected for the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program will fly.
Six teachers already have flown science missions as part of the program, and two of the six, Marita Beard of Branham High School in San Jose, Calif., and Kathleen Fredette of Desert Willow Intermediate School in Palmdale, Calif., talked to media representatives about their experiences and what they hope to bring back to their classroom.
Ten followers of the popular Twitter social media website and NASA social media team members gathered in front of the SOFIA flying observatory following an informal "Tweetup" at the SOFIA science and education media event June 8. Over its expected 20-year lifespan, the SOFIA will be used for a wide range of programs encompassing planetary science, star formation, stellar evolution, the interstellar medium and other astronomical research disciplines.
SOFIA program manager Bob Meyer said the observatory's development and modifications are almost complete, most subsystems are ready and, essentially, "The SOFIA is open for business and can begin unlocking the secrets of the universe for generations to come."
The SOFIA program is managed at Dryden, and Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., manages the program's science component in concert with the Universities Space Research Association. The German Aerospace Center DLR developed the 100-inch infrared telescope housed in the rear fuselage of the highly modified NASA 747SP, and the German SOFIA Institute together with NASA manages the SOFIA science mission operations.