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NASA and DLR: Mission completed for the Sophia telescope mounted on a Boeing 747SP

NASA and DLR: Mission completed for the Sophia telescope mounted on a Boeing 747SP

Sooner or later, all scientific instruments, even the most specific, can reach the end of their operational life. The latest news is related to the dedicated infrared telescope called Sophia (an acronym for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). The strange thing is that this observatory wanted him NASA And German space agency (DLR), inside a file Boeing 747SP.

This allowed it to fly higher than any other surface observatory without the costs and difficulties of designing a space telescope and then being able to travel to different places on Earth. One of the The latest scientific and media studies It was published in late October 2020. It is related to the presence of water molecules on the moon in areas illuminated by the sun.

NASA bid farewell to the Sophia Telescope

communication I fell in these hours by NASA Based on DLR. The operational life of SOFIA lasted eight years and will end no later than September 30, 2022 (the last mission currently in progress ends). The main mission lasted five years with an extension of three more years.

As written above, Sophia is basically a file Boeing 747SP It has been modified to house a reflecting telescope. A unique experience. According to the press release, after reviewing the effect of this telescope, it was stated “Sofia’s scientific productivity does not justify its operating costs”.

Another critical limitation of operational life is that scientific skills do not overlap with priorities NASA identified during nodal scan (Dedicated to the next decade of notes).

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For this reason, divestment from Sophia To allow a more profitable investment of funds (always very few funds for scientific research). Both US and German agencies agreed with the recommendation.


The development of this very special scientific instrument began in 1996 and then began its first operational stages in 2010 and reached full operational capacity in 2014. Sophia Uses a basic mirror from 2.7 m (effective diameter 2.5 meters) and one of its objectives was to study the moon, planets, stars, star formation regions and galaxies.

Flying at an altitude of just under 14 thousand meters offers remarkable advantages for observation, reducing interference from the lower layers of the atmosphere. In particular, cameras, spectrophotometers, and polarizers can detect both near and far infrared rays. Data collected by Sophia will be available For scholars from all over the world.

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