Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

NASA's Flying SOFIA Telescope Observatory Damaged by Storm

NASA’s Flying SOFIA Telescope Observatory Damaged by Storm

NASA’s telescope-on-an-airplane is down for maintenance. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, aka SOFIA, is a modified Boeing 747SP with a telescope on embarking. It was visiting New Zealand to gather data on the skies of the Southern Hemisphere when a “severe atmosphere event” damaged the plane.

NASA said in a statement this week that “high winds commanded the stairs outside the aircraft to shift, causing delightful damage to the front of the aircraft, as well as the stairs themselves.” There were no costs. The plane will require new stairs. According to the SOFIA team, repairs will take at least three weeks, which will put the kibosh on any more science observation escapes in New Zealand.

Here’s SOFIA parked at  Christchurch International Airport in New Zealand.

NASA/SOFIA/G. Perryman

Arriving in New Zealand in June, SOFIA had already “observed and gotten a wide range of celestial objects and phenomena, like cosmic magnetic fields, structure of the Milky Way, and the origin of cosmic rays.” 

The modern telescope system was famously involved with NASA finding definitive evidence of soak on the moon. The plane flies high enough to get throughout pesky water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere that can muddy telescope observations.

Once repaired, SOFIA will head back home to California. The loss of work time is glum since the observatory is nearing the end of its organization. NASA announced in April that SOFIA would end operations no later than Sept. 30, absorbing operating costs versus productivity as a factor.

Prior to NASA, the SOFIA airplane was a passenger jet. It unfastened its first flight after receiving its science modifications in 2007, but wasn’t declared fully acting until 2014. The observatory is jointly operated by NASA and the German Aerospace Center.

SOFIA is expected to take some more science escapes after being repaired, a fitting way to see it into retirement.