Satellite News

Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military (spy) and civilian Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites.

Thumbnail Recent Post

NASA Probe Sees Solar Wind Decline

The 33-year odyssey of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind. Now hurtling toward interstellar space some 17.4 billion...

Super-Earth Atmosphere

A team of astronomers, including two NASA Sagan Fellows, has made the first characterizations of a super-Earth's atmosphere, by using a ground-based telescope...

Kepler Discovers

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star...

Pulverized Planet

Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope....

Dark Asteroids

NASA is set to launch a sensitive new infrared telescope to seek out sneaky things in the night sky -- among them, dark asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth....

You don't always have a rocket to do rocket science. Sometimes a mere airplane will do – that is, a mere Boeing 747 toting a 17-ton, 9-foot wide telescope named SOFIA.

"SOFIA is set to attain some spectacular science," says scientist."For instance, this telescope will help us figure out how planets form and how our own solar system came to be."

And as a portable observatory, it can fly anywhere, anytime. SOFIA can move into position to capture especially interesting astronomical events such as stellar occultations (when celestial objects cross in front of background stars), while ground-based telescopes fastened to the "wrong" geographic locations on Earth's surface miss the show. SOFIA will fly above the veil of water vapor that surrounds Earth to take a wide-eyed look at the cosmos.

"SOFIA can able to locate the 'planetary snowline,' where water vapor turns to ice in the disk of dust and gas around young stars," says project scientist.

"SOFIA will also be able to pin down where basic building blocks like oxygen, methane, and carbon dioxide are located within the protoplanetary disk."

Unlike these space-based scopes, SOFIA can "head back to the barn" periodically for instruments to be repaired, adjusted, or even swapped out for new and improved science instruments – keeping pace with cutting edge science from a "mere" airplane.

Leave a Reply