For maintenance, NASA’s telescope-on-a-plane is not in operation. A modified Boeing 747SP called the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, has a telescope on board. In order to collect information about the Southern Hemisphere’s skies, it was travelling to New Zealand when it suffered damage from a “severe weather event.”
“High winds forced the stairs outside the aircraft to shift, causing light damage to the front of the aircraft, as well as the stairs itself”NASA stated in a statement
There weren’t any accidents. New steps will be needed for the plane. The SOFIA team estimates that repairs will take at least three weeks, putting a stop to any additional science observation flights in New Zealand.
The SOFIA spacecraft had “seen and researched a wide range of astronomical objects and phenomena, like cosmic magnetic fields, structure of the Milky Way, and the genesis of cosmic rays” before it arrived in New Zealand in June.
Famously, NASA used the special telescope equipment to discover unmistakable proof of water on the moon. The aircraft flies at a height above the Earth’s atmosphere that keeps water vapour from obscuring telescope images.
After being fixed, SOFIA will return to its California home. The observatory is getting close to the end of its mission, therefore the lost work time is sad. NASA stated in April that SOFIA would cease operations no later than September 30 due to operating expenditures as compared to productivity.
The SOFIA aircraft was a passenger jet before NASA. After receiving its science improvements in 2007, it successfully conducted its first flight, but it wasn’t officially deemed fully operational until 2014. The German Aerospace Center and NASA work together to run the observatory.
After being restored, SOFIA is anticipated to do a few more science flights, which will be a fitting send-off for the aircraft.
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