NASA

February 22, 2013

Educator teams fly on NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory

Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (from left) Constance Gartner, Vince Washington, Ira Hardin and Chelen Johnson at the educators’ work station aboard the SOFIA observatory during a flight on the night of Feb. 12-13, 2013.

PALMDALE, Calif. – The first four Airborne Astronomy Ambassador educators returned safely to Earth at Palmdale, Calif., early in the morning of Feb. 13, 2013, after completing their initial flight on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA.

That flight launched the AAA program’s first full year of operations, during which 26 educators from classrooms and science centers across the United States will fly on the SOFIA as partners with scientists conducting astronomy research using the airborne observatory.

On board for the Feb. 12-13 flight were ambassadors Constance Gartner of the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan, Wisc.; Chelen Johnson from the Breck School in Golden Valley, Minn.; Ira Harden and Vincente Washington, both from City Honors College Preparatory Charter School in Inglewood, Calif. The astronomers on the flight included Juergen Wolf and Doerte Mehlert of the German SOFIA Institute in Stuttgart, Germany and Ted Dunham of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.

The SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP jetliner that carries a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches to altitudes as high as 45,000 feet. Flying above Earth’s obscuring atmospheric water vapor, scientists can gather and analyze infrared light to further our understanding of puzzles such as the processes that form stars and planets, the chemistry of organic compounds in interstellar clouds, and the environment around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

“SOFIA enables educators to work with scientists and to experience a flight mission on the world’s largest airborne observatory. Educators then take their experiences back to their classrooms and communities,” said Eddie Zavala, NASA’s SOFIA program manager. “They can relate the excitement, hardships, challenges, discoveries, teamwork and educational values of SOFIA and scientific research to students, teachers and the general public.”

The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program is a yearly professional development opportunity extended to educators through a competitive, peer-reviewed process. Teams of two educators are paired with groups of professional astronomers who have won a parallel competitive process to use the flying telescope for their research projects. Each educator team will fly on two 10-hour missions that depart from and return to NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.

“These educators submitted applications describing how they will use what they learn from SOFIA to help promote increased public literacy in science, technology, engineering and math,” said astronomer Dana Backman, manager of the SOFIA’s education and public outreach programs. “Published studies have shown that personally participating in scientific research increases the educators’ enthusiasm for teaching, and measurably improves their career retention rates. The same studies have shown that this enthusiasm carries over to the students with tangible increases in test scores and science fair participation.”

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is shown with its telescope door partly open during a test flight for its astronomical observation mission.

The current cohort of educator teams will continue flying through the summer of 2013. Information for educators wishing to apply for AAA flights in 2014 will be available starting March 1, 2013, at: http://www.seti.org/sofia

SOFIA is a partnership of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center (Edwards, Calif.) manages the SOFIA program. NASA’s Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, Calif.) manages SOFIA’s science mission in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA; Columbia, Md.) and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI; Stuttgart). SOFIA is based at NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility (DAOF) in Palmdale, Calif. SOFIA’s education and public outreach programs are managed by a partnership of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in San Francisco, Calif.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

NASA seeks suborbital flight services proposals for technology demonstrations

NASA is seeking proposals from U.S. commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicle providers to integrate and fly technology payloads for the space agency. NASA uses companies for suborbital flights to encourage and facilitate the growth of this important aerospace market while also providing a means to advance a wide range of new launch vehicle and space...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

‘Operation Play and Sleigh’ a success

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber The 412th Security Forces Squadron Training Section held a Ruck March and Toy Drive Dec. 20 for children at the A. Miriam Jamison Childrenís Center in Kern County, Calif. Participants carr...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA Dryden celebrates 60th anniversary of first Mach 2 flight

NASA photograph One of the three Douglas Skyrockets rockets upward during a research flight. Sixty years ago, A. Scott Crossfield, a talented young engineering research pilot for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics,...
 

 
NASA photograph by Jim Ross

NASA tests SLS autopilot technology on F/A-18 Jet

NASA photograph by Jim Ross An F/A-18 research jet simulated various flight conditions that NASA’s Space Launch System may experience as it makes its way from the launch pad to space, to evaluate the rocket’s flight...
 
 

NASA Dryden awards facilities maintenance contract to Helix Management Services

NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., has awarded a contract to Helix Management Services, of Lanham, Md., to provide facility operations and maintenance services at the center’s campuses at Edwards Air Force Base and Palmdale, Calif. The firm fixed-price contract could be worth as much as $29.4 million over the five-year life of the...
 
 
NASA photograph by Tom Tschida

NASA Dryden’s DROID mini-UAV reaches new heights

NASA photograph by Tom Tschida The DROID 3 takes off from the Muroc Model Masters strip on Rosamond Dry Lake on its first attempt to reach 10,000-foot altitude.   The smallest member of NASA Dryden Flight Research Center&#...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>