Tech

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/Boeing image

NASA wraps up first green aviation tests on Boeing ecoDemonstrator

NASA/Boeing image NASA’s recent green aviation tests included the Active Flow Control Enhanced Vertical Tail Flight Experiment, for which 31 tiny devices called sweeping jet actuators were installed on the tail of a Boein...
 
 
onr-locust

LOCUST: Autonomous, swarming UAVs fly into the future

A new era in autonomy and unmanned systems for naval operations is on the horizon, as officials at the Office of Naval Research announced April 14 recent technology demonstrations of swarming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) ...
 
 
NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich

Second X-56A MUTT makes first flight

NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich NASA researchers are using the X-56A, a low-cost, modular, remotely piloted aerial vehicle, to explore the behavior of lightweight, flexible aircraft structures. Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong ...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

Schaefer takes command of 412th Test Wing

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber Maj. Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., Air Force Test Center commander (left), presents the 412th Test Wing guidon to Brig. Gen. Carl Schaefer signifying the beginning of his new command at the 412th ...
 
 

NASA creates partnership to advance composite materials for aircraft of future

NASA has established a public-private partnership with five organizations to advance knowledge about composite materials that could improve the performance of future aircraft. Composites are innovative new materials for building aircraft that can enhance strength while remaining lightweight. The agency selected the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Va., to manage administration of the...
 
 

NASA awards IT contracts to 118 small, disadvantaged businesses

NASA has awarded 118 contracts to small, disadvantaged businesses under Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP V), a multi-award Government-Wide Acquisition Contract vehicle focused on information technology products and product-based services. Of these SEWP V contracts, 14 were awarded to businesses operating in historically underutilized business zones, 25 contracts were awarded to b...
 




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>