SOFIA Blog | 17. April 2015 | posted by Heinz-Theo Hammes

SOFIA flight 200

Credit: DLR (CC-By 3.0)
Scientific observations using the FIFI-LS instrument were performed during SOFIA flight 200

I was given the opportunity to fly as a passenger on SOFIA'S 200th flight during the night of 12 to 13 March 2015. It was also the second flight of the new observation campaign featuring the German-developed Field-Imaging Far-Infrared Line Spectrometer (FIFI-LS), an astronomical instrument developed by the University of Stuttgart. I have to say, though, that my interest was not so much the science; rather, I wanted to experience what SOFIA 'felt' like after undergoing a lengthy refurbishment at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg. The overhaul had included an almost complete replacement of the air conditioning and cabin panelling. During the mission briefing, the meteorologists mentioned a possibility of turbulence in the northern section of the flight route. That's what I had been hoping for. After all, I wanted to see the telescope in action. Until then, I had only heard that the telescope remains firmly focused on its target – regardless of how 'shaky' a flight might be. The flight schedule looked interesting, with turning points over Seattle and San Francisco in the north, and Albuquerque, the Texas Panhandle and Las Vegas in the south. read more

SOFIA Blog | 06. February 2015 | posted by Dietmar Lilienthal

New challenges for a refurbished observatory

Maintenance is connected with waiting. No wonder then that, near the end of SOFIA's five-month heavy maintenance visit at Lufthansa Technik AG in Hamburg, the researchers could hardly wait for the whole procedure to be completed. I was curious to find out exactly how scientific investigations would improve in the entirely refurbished airborne observatory. SOFIA has been back in service since 13 January, and it is already clear that the conditions for observation on board the recently maintained aircraft have been significantly enhanced.

NASA/CXC/PSU/K.Getman, E.Feigelson, M.Kuhn & the MYStIX team; Infrared:NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Flame Nebula (NGC 2024), in the constellation of Orion. High-resolution spectra of neutral oxygen and singly ionised carbon, among others, have been measured for the first time in the dark, central regions of the cloud. They permit precise information on the composition and depth structure of the cloud, and how it is moving.

read more