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June 21, 2007
Airborne Astronomy in View at NASA's Palmdale Gallery
The world's newest flying telescope will be in focus on Saturday, June 30, at NASA's Aerospace Exploration Gallery in the Palmdale Civic Center.

Dr. Dana Backman will give presentations regarding NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, beginning at 9 a.m., then repeating at 10:30, noon, and 1:30 p.m.

Dr. Backman is with the SETI Institute and the Universities Space Research Association, and manages SOFIA's education and public outreach program.

An infrared astronomer, Backman received his doctoral degree in astrophysics from the University of Hawaii. He flew on several research flights of SOFIA's predecessor, the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, while a post-doctoral student at NASA's Ames Research Center.

NASA's SOFIA aircraft arrived at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. on May 31, 2007. SOFIA will undergo installation and integration of mission systems and a multi-phase flight test program at Dryden over the next three years that is expected to lead to an operational capability to conduct astronomy missions in about 2010.

During its expected 20-year lifetime, SOFIA will be capable of "Great Observatory" class astronomical science, providing astronomers with access to the visible, infrared and sub-millimeter spectrum with optimized performance in the mid-infrared to sub-millimeter range.

NASA Dryden operates the Aerospace Exploration Gallery in cooperation with the AERO Institute and the City of Palmdale. The gallery is located at the Palmdale Institute of Technology, 38256 Sierra Highway, near city hall in the Palmdale Civic Center. It is open free to the public Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information about SOFIA, visit: www.nasa.gov/sofia

For more information about NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and its research projects, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden on the Internet.


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