NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy has returned to its base at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., following its inaugural three-week southern hemisphere deployment to New Zealand.
The SOFIA flying observatory touched down at the adjacent Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale shortly after 7 a.m. on Aug. 2, 2013.
The highly modified Boeing 747SP carrying a high-tech German-built 2.5-meter infrared telescope conducted nine astronomical science flights from a deployment base at Christchurch, N.Z., during the southern hemisphere deployment. Mission manager Edward Harmon labeled the campaign a complete success, and said scientists and astronomers will be analyzing the data received from observations of the Milky Way galaxy for months to come.
A second southern hemisphere deployment to New Zealand is planned in 2015.