Other | 18. September 2011 | 1 Comment

SOFIA – up close and spectacular!

In spite of the weather, a permanent grey cloud hovering over our heads, German Aerospace Day is off to a very promising start. At the Spacetweetup tent we were welcomed by Marco Trovatello (DLR) and Fulvio Drigani (ESA). The first European Space Tweetup had officially begun and we were told to be shareful!

After giving us a while to settle in, we were given a private tour of SOFIA. Wow! SOFIA is impressive. I must say, even though we write about it quite a bit, seeing it up close was quite the experience. SOFIA Platform Programme Manager, Brent Cobleigh was kind enough to brief us in on the airborne observatory. He not only showed us where each of the crew members sits during the course of the science flights, but also gave us detailed information about this spectacular observatory that can perform up to 10-hour observation flights. We were also informed about the German instrument GREAT (German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies) by Stefan Teufel, SOFIA flight engineer. GREAT can be mounted and dismounted depending on the study being carried out. How cool is that? More instruments will fly on board SOFIA, showing its advantage over space telescopes: it can have latest technology instruments on board.

Credits: DLR/Alejandro Morellon

Since the weather was not appropriate we were unable to see the telescope cavity open, or the telescope itself, but seeing the size of the closed door gave me an idea of the size of the telescope (a whopping 2.7 metres).

Those attending visitors at the SOFIA tent were also extremely friendly, sharing information about future student/teacher flights on SOFIA, explaining the structure of the observatory and even signing autographs for those of us who find SOFIA fascinating! I got an autograph from Manny Antimisaris and DLR's Andrea Schaub got some pictures taken!

Credit: DLR/Peter Clissold

We are now listening to Alois Himmes, SOFIA Development Program Manager, delivering a presentation about the SOFIA telescope. So thankful to him for taking the time to share a bit of his time with us!

And now the Sun has finally made an appearance. Will go around the DLR site and tell you about the cool activities and exhibitions. If you have preferences on what you would like me to write about, post a comment, or send a question to @dlr_en, or our Facebook page.