Tech

June 4, 2014

NASA declares SOFIA Observatory fully operational

The door to the SOFIA observatory’s 2.5-meter telescope is wide open during a developmental test flight in 2010.

On June 2, 2014, during the 224th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston, Mass., Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director, announced that the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy has passed its Key Decision Point E and been transitioned into the operational phase.

“We have now formally completed the development phase of SOFIA and declared the observatory operational. That’s the equivalent of a launch for a space mission,” said Hertz.

The technical criteria for SOFIA’s transition to its operational phase were met in February 2014, and NASA’s formal review was completed on May 29. Prior to the KDP-E declaration last week, SOFIA demonstrated an impressive rate of science operations in April/May by flying 14 flights, encompassing more than 100 successful science mission hours, in 30 days.

In parallel with the mission milestone, commissioning flights for the observatory’s fifth instrument, the Field-Imaging Far-Infrared Line Spectrometer, were completed in April, and flights to commission SOFIA’s sixth instrument, the Echelon-Cross Echelle Spectrograph, began later that month.

As commissioning work continues with EXES, a pair of second-generation instruments / instrument upgrades continue development. An American-built instrument, the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus (HAWC+), a far-infrared camera with polarized light detection capabilities that began development at the University of Chicago, is nearing completion at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. A set of enhancements, dubbed “upGREAT” to the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) spectrometer, will further enhance that instrument’s already impressive performance.

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center. The aircraft is based at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Centerís facility in Palmdale, Calif. NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center manages the program. NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, Md., and the German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart.




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


 
 

 

Headlines September 19, 2014

News: McKeon on broader military authorization: Anything can ‘fail or pass’ - Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said if Congress returns after the midterm elections to weigh a broader military authorization for the battle against Islamic State, it might not pass. Defense contractor gets 7 years for giving secrets...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,203 As of Sept. 16, 2014, at least 2,203 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,823 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 

Pratt & Whitney, U.S. Air Force complete qualification for F135 engine testing

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. , together with its U.S. Air Force partner at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., celebrated another significant milestone qualification for F135 engine testing at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. OC-ALC which in addition to engine testing is also qualified to perform...
 

 
Navy photograph

Triton has first cross-country flight from Palmdale

Northrop Grumman photograph The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System takes off from Northrop Grummanís Palmdale, Calif., facility Sept. 17 for its first cross-country flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent, River, Md. PALMDALE,...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

AFRL commander describes Air Force’s technology vision

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello takes a question from an audience member after discussing Air Force Research Laboratory breakthrough technologies during the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air ...
 




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>