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.


 
 

 

News Briefs February 27, 2015

Ukraine will start pulling back heavy weapons in the east Ukraine’s military says it will start pulling back its heavy weapons from the front line with Russian-backed separatists as required under a cease-fire agreement. The Defense Ministry said in a statement Feb. 26 that it reserved the right to revise its withdrawal plans in the...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s AstroMesh reflector successfully deploys for NASA’s SMAP satellite

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully deployed the mesh reflector and boom aboard the Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft, a key milestone on its mission to provide global measurements of soil moisture. Launched Jan. 31, SMAP represents the future of Earth Science by helping researchers better understand our planet. SMAP’s unmatched data capabilities are enabled...
 
 
NASA photograph by Brian Tietz

NASA offers space tech grants to early career university faculty

NASA photograph by Brian Tietz Tensegrity research is able to simulate multiple forms of locomotion. In this image, a prototype tensegrity robot reproduces forward crawling motion. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Director...
 

 
navy-china

USS Fort Worth conducts CUES with Chinese Navy

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with the People’s Liberation Army-Navy Jiangkai II frigate Hengshui (FFG 572) Feb. 23 enhancing the professional ma...
 
 

AEGIS tracks, simulates engagement of three short-range ballistic missiles

The Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and USS Barry (DDG 52) successfully completed a flight test involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system. At approximately 2:30 a.m., EST, Feb. 26, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near simultaneously from NASA’s Wallops...
 
 

DOD seeks novel ideas to shape its technological future

The Defense Department is seeking novel ideas to shape its future, and officials are looking to industry, small business, academia, start-ups, the public – anyone, really – to boost its ability to prevail against adversaries whose access to technology grows daily. The program, called the Long-Range Research and Development Plan, or LRRDP, began with an...
 




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>