The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a joint German-US space science project. Carrying a 2.5-metre telescope inside a modified Boeing 747SP, the airborne observatory performs astronomical observations in the infrared and submillimetre wavelengths, high above the disturbance of Earth's atmosphere.
How long does it take for a star to be born? To date, only this much has been clear: longer than there have been humans on Earth with the technology to observe it. But the precise age of a star-forming cloud has now been determined by a team under the leadership of scientists at the University of Cologne using the GREAT spectrometer on board the SOFIA airborne observatory.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a modified Boeing 747SP, is a joint project of the US Space Agency, NASA, and DLR. It is normally stationed at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, but at 08:44 CEST on Saturday, 28 June 2014, it landed at Hamburg Airport.
Scientists at DLR have used the SOFIA stratospheric observatory to observe a planet outside of the Solar System. Studying its atmosphere will enable them to determine whether this exoplanet is a super-Earth or a mini-Neptune.