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  • richardmitnick 5:06 pm on May 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA SOFIA   

    From SOFIA: “Flying Observatory Detects Atomic Oxygen in Martian Atmosphere” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    NASA SOFIA

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    May 6, 2016
    Kassandra Bell

    An instrument onboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) detected atomic oxygen in the atmosphere of Mars for the first time since the last observation 40 years ago. These atoms were found in the upper layers of the Martian atmosphere known as the mesosphere.

    Atomic oxygen affects how other gases escape Mars and therefore has a significant impact on the planet’s atmosphere. Scientists detected only about half the amount of oxygen expected, which may be due to variations in the Martian atmosphere. Scientists will continue to use SOFIA to study these variations to help better understand the atmosphere of the Red Planet.

    “Atomic oxygen in the Martian atmosphere is notoriously difficult to measure,” said Pamela Marcum, SOFIA project scientist. “To observe the far-infrared wavelengths needed to detect atomic oxygen, researchers must be above the majority of Earth’s atmosphere and use highly sensitive instruments, in this case a spectrometer. SOFIA provides both capabilities.”

    The Viking and Mariner missions of the 1970s made the last measurements of atomic oxygen in the Martian atmosphere. These more recent observations were possible thanks to SOFIA’s airborne location, flying between 37,000-45,000 feet, above most of the infrared-blocking moisture in Earth’s atmosphere. The advanced detectors on one of the observatory’s instruments, the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT), enabled astronomers to distinguish the oxygen in the Martian atmosphere from oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.

    NASA SOFIA GREAT
    NASA SOFIA GREAT

    Researchers presented their findings in a paper* published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2015.

    1
    SOFIA/GREAT spectrum of oxygen [O I] superimposed on an image of Mars from the MAVEN mission. The amount of atomic oxygen computed from this SOFIA data is about half the amount expected.
    Credits: SOFIA/GREAT spectrum: NASA/DLR/USRA/DSI/MPIfR/GREAT Consortium/ MPIfS/Rezac et al. 2015. Mars image: NASA/MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission)

    NASA/Mars MAVEN

    *Science paper:
    First detection of the 63 μm atomic oxygen line in the thermosphere of Mars with GREAT/SOFIA⋆

    See the full article here .

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    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

    NASA image

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  • richardmitnick 2:33 pm on April 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , HAWC+ camera, NASA SOFIA   

    From SOFIA: “One-of-a-Kind Camera Added to SOFIA” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    NASA SOFIA

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    April 26, 2016

    Media contact: Kassandra Bell
    SOFIA Science Center, NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

    NASA SOFIA High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus HAWC+ Camera
    NASA SOFIA High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus HAWC+ Camera

    The newest instrument, an infrared camera called the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus (HAWC+), was installed on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, this week. This is the only currently operating astronomical camera that makes images using far-infrared light, allowing studies of low-temperature early stages of star and planet formation. HAWC+ includes a polarimeter, a device that measures the alignment of incoming light waves. With the polarimeter, HAWC+ can map magnetic fields in star forming regions and in the environment around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Sag A* NASA&'s Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way
    Sag A* NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way

    These new maps can reveal how the strength and direction of magnetic fields affect the rate at which interstellar clouds condense to form new stars. A team led by C. Darren Dowell at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and including participants from more than a dozen institutions developed the instrument.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

    NASA image

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  • richardmitnick 1:13 pm on April 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    From SOFIA: “Eight Things to Know About Our Flying Observatory” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    NASA SOFIA

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    Our flying observatory, called SOFIA, is the world’s largest airborne observatory. It is a partnership with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). SOFIA studies the life cycle of stars, planets (including Pluto’s atmosphere), how interstellar dust can contribute to planet formation, analyzes the area around black holes, and identifies complex molecules in space.

    1. A Telescope in an Airplane
    1
    SOFIA stands for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. It is a Boeing 747SP aircraft that carries a 100-inch telescope to observe the universe while flying between 38,000 and 45,000 feet – the layer of Earth’s atmosphere called the stratosphere.

    2. The Short Aircraft Means Long Flights
    2
    SP stands for “special performance.” The plane is 47 feet shorter than a standard 747, so it’s lighter and can fly greater distances. Each observing flight lasts 10-12 hours.

    3. It Flies with A Hole in the Side of the Plane…
    3
    The telescope is behind a door that opens when SOFIA reaches altitude so astronomers on board can study the universe. The kind of light SOFIA observes, infrared, is blocked by almost all materials, so engineers designed the side of the aircraft to direct air up-and-over the open cavity, ensuring a smooth flight.

    4. …But the Cabin is Pressurized!
    4
    A wall, called a pressure bulkhead, was added between the telescope and the cabin so the team inside the aircraft stays comfortable and safe. Each flight has pilots, telescope operators, scientists, flight planners and mission crew aboard.

    5. This Telescope Has to Fly
    5
    Water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere blocks infrared light from reaching the ground. Flying at more than 39,000 feet puts SOFIA above more than 99% of this vapor, allowing astronomers to study infrared light coming from space. The airborne observatory can carry heavier, more powerful instruments than space-based observatories because it is not limited by launch weight restrictions and solar power.

    6. Studying the Invisible Universe
    6
    Humans cannot see what is beyond the rainbow of visible light. However, many interesting astronomical processes happen in the clouds of dust and gas that often surround the objects SOFIA studies, like newly forming stars. Infrared light can pass through these clouds, allowing astronomers to study what is happening inside these areas.

    7. The German Telescope
    7
    The telescope was built our partner, the German Aerospace Center, DLR. It is made of a glass-ceramic material called Zerodur that does not change shape when exposed to extremely cold temperatures. The telescope has a honeycomb design, which reduces the weight by 80%, from 8,700 lb to 1,764 lb. (Note that the honeycomb design was only visible before the reflective aluminum coating was applied to the mirror’s surface).

    8. ZigZag Flights with a Purpose
    8
    The telescope can move up and down, between 20-60 degrees above the horizon. But it can only move significantly left and right by turning the whole aircraft. Each new direction of the flight means astronomers are studying a new celestial object. SOFIA’s flight planners carefully map where the plane needs to fly to best observe each object planned for that night.

    Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

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  • richardmitnick 12:33 pm on March 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA SOFIA, Star Eruptions Create and Scatter Elements with Earth-like Composition   

    From SOFIA: “SOFIA Observatory Indicates Star Eruptions Create and Scatter Elements with Earth-like Composition” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    NASA SOFIA

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    March 8, 2016
    Dr. Dana Backman
    SOFIA Science Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

    Observations made with NASA’s flying observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) indicate that nova eruptions create elements that can form rocky planets, much like Earth.

    Astronomers occasionally see a nova, which may appear as a “new” star that grows brighter and then fades away after a few weeks. In fact, “nova” (plural, novae) is the Latin word for “new.” We now know that novae are not actually new stars, but rather are associated with stellar old age: explosions occurring on the surfaces of burned-out stars. They are less violent and more common than the star-shattering explosions called supernovae that completely destroy an aging star.

    Principal investigator Bob Gehrz of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and collaborators have been using SOFIA to study novae as part of an ongoing research program to understand the role these objects play in creating and injecting elements into the material between the stars called the interstellar medium.

    Gerhz and his team found high levels of elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, neon, magnesium, aluminum and silicon in the Nova Delphini, which erupted in 2013 in the constellation Delphinum (the Dolphin). Some of these elements can be found in living things, whereas others are important constituents of rocky planets such as Earth.

    There is evidence that when the universe began in the Big Bang, only trace amounts of elements other than hydrogen and helium were created. Atoms of heavier elements were made later by processes inside stars, or during star death throes such as nova and supernova explosions.

    The observations of the Nova Delphini debris cloud indicate that novae in general may be a major source of medium-weight elements in the universe. Their paper was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

    SOFIA’s Program Scientist Pam Marcum noted that “these spectra of Nova Delphinum could only be obtained by SOFIA, not by any observatory on the ground or currently in space, because of SOFIA’s unique access to the specific range of infrared wavelengths needed for these measurements.” She continued, “this research is part of the broad, ongoing effort by astronomers to understand the life cycles of stars, and how the formation of planets like Earth fit into those cycles.”

    The observations for these findings were gathered with the FORCAST instrument on SOFIA, the Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope, which can gather images and spectra of planets, stars, interstellar clouds and galaxies at mid-infrared wavelengths.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

    NASA image

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  • richardmitnick 10:24 am on February 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NASA SOFIA, The Cycle 4 program   

    From SOFIA: “SOFIA Begins Fourth Year of Observations Targeting Planets, Asteroids, Stars, Galaxies, and More” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    NASA SOFIA

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    Feb. 19, 2016
    Nicholas A. Veronico

    SOFIA Science Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.


    NASA’s “flying” telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aboard a highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner, began its fourth series of science flights on Feb. 3, 2016.

    This operational period, known as “Cycle 4,” is a one-year-long observing period in which SOFIA is scheduled for 106 flights between now and the end of January 2017.

    “The Cycle 4 program will make more than 550 hours of observations,” said Pamela Marcum, NASA’s SOFIA Project Scientist. “We’ll be studying objects spanning the full gamut of astronomical topics including planets, moons, asteroids and comets in our solar system; star and planet formation; extrasolar planets and the evolution of planetary systems; the interstellar medium and interstellar chemistry; the nucleus of the Milky Way galaxy, and nearby normal and active galaxies.”

    SOFIA’s instruments observe infrared energy – one part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes visible light, x-rays, radio waves and others. Many objects in space, for example newborn stars, emit almost all their energy at infrared wavelengths and are undetectable when observed in ordinary visible light. In other cases, clouds of gas and dust in space block visible light objects but allow infrared energy to reach Earth. In both situations, the celestial objects of interest can only be studied using infrared facilities like SOFIA.

    “During the February third flight, the target objects ranged from a young planetary system around the naked-eye star Vega, only 25 light years from us, to an infant star 1,500 light years away in the Orion star forming region,” said Erick Young, SOFIA’s Science Mission Operations Director, describing the science conducted on Cycle 4’s inaugural flight. “We also observed a supermassive black hole hidden behind dense dust clouds in the center of a galaxy 170 million light years away.”

    Scientists from the University of Georgia, University of Arizona, University of Texas at San Antonio, and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, plus their collaborators from institutions in the United States and Europe, obtained data using the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) mounted on SOFIA’s telescope for imaging and spectroscopic observations during the flight.

    NASA SOFIA Forcast
    FORCAST

    Later in Cycle 4, the SOFIA observatory is scheduled to deploy to the Southern Hemisphere for seven weeks in June and July 2016, with 24 science flights planned from a base at Christchurch, New Zealand. There, scientists will have the opportunity to observe areas of interest such as the Galactic Center and other parts of the Milky Way that are not visible or difficult to observe from the Northern Hemisphere.

    The far-infrared High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-plus (HAWC+) will be added to SOFIA’s suite of seven cameras, spectrometers, and high-speed photometers during the latter part of Cycle 4. HAWC+’s optics, state-of-the art detector arrays, and upgradability will permit a broad range of important astrophysical investigations, including the unique and powerful capability of mapping magnetic fields in molecular clouds.

    For a list of science programs selected for Cycle 4, visit:

    https://www.sofia.usra.edu/Science/proposals/cycle4/results.html

    For more information about SOFIA, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/sofiahttp://www.dlr.de/en/sofia

    For information about SOFIA’s science mission, visit:

    http://www.sofia.usra.eduhttp://www.dsi.uni-stuttgart.de/index.en.html

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

    NASA image

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  • richardmitnick 11:13 am on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA SOFIA   

    From NASA SOFIA: “SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors Program” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission is responsible to NASA for conducting an Education and Public Outreach program that exploits the unique attributes of airborne astronomy to contribute to national goals for the reform of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and to the elevation of public scientific and technical literacy.

    SOFIA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) effort is a professional development program aspiring to improve teaching, inspire students, and inform the community. It builds upon the legacy of NASA’s highly successful FOSTER (Flight Opportunities for Science Teacher EnRicment) program that flew educators aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) from 1990 – 1995.

    SOFIA’s AAA program now enters its Cycle 2 phase: 12 AAA educator teams representing educators from 10 states were selected.

    For the Cycle 1 phase of SOFIA’s AAA program, 13 AAA educator teams plus alternates were selected in a highly competitive application process. Selected educators came from a variety of backgrounds, and their institutions included a school for the deaf, an alternative education site (developmentally challenged), highly underserved student populations, rural schools, and a Native American school site.

    The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors “Pilot” program for educator professional development successfully flew six teachers on the observatory during the summer of 2011, representing California, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Virginia (Washington DC). Evaluation confirmed the program’s positive impact on the teacher participants, on their students, and in their communities. Teachers not only incorporated content knowledge and specific components of their experience into their curricula, they also have also given dozens of presentations and implemented teacher professional development workshops. Their efforts to date have impacted thousands of students and teachers.

    As part of preparation and training for their flight experience, AAA program participants complete a graduate-level Astronomy for Teachers on-line course administered by Montana State University and National Teacher Enhancement Network. Teams are paired with an astronomer with observatory time, and they work with this astronomer throughout the research, from preparation to data analysis. AAAs optimally fly aboard the observatory twice, will implement classroom lessons based on their experiences, and will complete an outreach plan.

    Selection into this prestigious program is truly an honor for the educators and their school, planetarium, or observatory.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.
    NASA

     
  • richardmitnick 4:36 pm on September 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA SOFIA   

    From NASA Sofia: “SOFIA Begins 2015 Southern Hemisphere Science Flights” A Little Late 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    June 19, 2015
    Nicholas A. Veronico

    SOFIA Science Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

    650-604-4589 / 650-224-8726

    nicholas.a.veronico@nasa.gov / nveronico@sofia.usra.edu

    Kate K. Squires 

    Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. 

    661-276-2020 

    kate.k.squires@nasa.gov

    NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, departed from Christchurch, New Zealand at 6:20 pm local time June 19 for the first of 15 planned Southern Hemisphere deployment science flights.

    For the next five weeks SOFIA will operate from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Program facility at Christchurch International Airport. Flying out of New Zealand enables SOFIA to study celestial objects that are more easily observed, or can only be observed, from southern latitudes.

    “SOFIA’s 2013 deployment to New Zealand and the resulting observations were of great scientific value,” said Eddie Zavala, SOFIA program manager. “Our research staff and guest investigators have been looking forward to building on that success with our return to the Southern Hemisphere this month.”

    During this deployment, five cameras and spectrographs will be used: the Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) and the German REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) for a total of 15 flights, plus the First Light Infrared TEst CAMera (FLITECAM), the High Speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations (HIPO), and the Focal Plane Imager (FPI) in ensemble during one flight to observe a stellar occultation by Pluto.

    “Many of the observations planned for this deployment are aimed at studying the formation of massive stars,” said Pamela Marcum, SOFIA’s Project Scientist. “Massive protostars are rare, so even the nearest examples are more than a thousand light years away. SOFIA’s large telescope enables astronomers to resolve distant groups of such stars, allowing uniquely detailed observations of them and the material that surrounds them.”

    “We are also interested in the other end of the stellar life cycle,” noted Dana Backman, astronomer and manager of SOFIA’s Outreach programs. “During late stages, many stars develop intense winds, ejecting large amounts of their material into surrounding space. As those winds cool, some of the gas condenses into dust particles. The gas and dust are recycled into the interstellar medium, adding to the raw material for subsequent generations of stars and planets. Researchers want a more complete understanding of how that all happens.”

    Observing from the Southern Hemisphere also enables SOFIA to view the Magellanic Clouds, two satellite galaxies of the Milky Way Galaxy that have had fewer generations of stars, and therefore contain smaller proportions of heavy elements, than our own galaxy. Comparing star formation and stellar evolution in the Magellanic Clouds versus the Milky Way can help refine an understanding of how the earliest generations of stars in the Universe formed from gas containing little or no heavy elements.

    FLIPO and the FPI are expected to observe Pluto as it passes in front of a background star on June 29. That occultation event is fortuitously soon before the New Horizons spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The near-coincidence of observations by SOFIA and New Horizons could provide investigators with a singular opportunity to link the fly-by spacecraft’s “snap shot” measurements with an ongoing Earth-based research program monitoring long-term changes in Pluto’s atmosphere.

    SOFIA is scheduled to return to the United States on July 24.

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center. The aircraft is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California is home to the SOFIA Science Center that is managed by NASA in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart.

    For a media kit with information about SOFIA’s Southern Hemisphere deployment, visit:
    http://www.sofia.usra.edu/News/media/NZ/NZ2015.html

    For more information about SOFIA, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/sofiahttp://www.dlr.de/en/sofia

    For information about SOFIA’s science mission, visit:

    http://www.sofia.usra.eduhttp://www.dsi.uni-stuttgart.de/index.en.html

    Read the DLR news release (in English) regarding the deployment at:
    http://www.dlr.de/dlr/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-10212/332_read-13949/year-all/#/gallery/19764

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.
    NASA

     
  • richardmitnick 7:24 am on April 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA SOFIA, ,   

    From SOFIA: “NASA’s SOFIA Finds Missing Link Between Supernovae and Planet Formation” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    March 19, 2015
    Last Updated: April 18, 2015
    Editor: Sarah Ramsey

    Felicia Chou
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-5241
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Nicholas Veronico

    SOFIA Science Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
    650-604-4589 / 650-224-8726

    nicholas.a.veronico@nasa.gov / nveronico@sofia.usra.edu

    Kate K. Squires

    Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. 

    661-276-2020 

    kate.k.squires@nasa.gov

    1

    Using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an international scientific team discovered that supernovae are capable of producing a substantial amount of the material from which planets like Earth can form.

    These findings are published in the March 19 online issue of Science magazine.

    “Our observations reveal a particular cloud produced by a supernova explosion 10,000 years ago contains enough dust to make 7,000 Earths,” said Ryan Lau of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

    The research team, headed by Lau, used SOFIA’s airborne telescope and the Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, FORCAST, to take detailed infrared images of an interstellar dust cloud known as Supernova Remnant Sagittarius A East, or SNR Sgr A East.

    2
    Supernova remnant dust detected by SOFIA (yellow) survives away from the hottest X-ray gas (purple). The red ellipse outlines the supernova shock wave. The inset shows a magnified image of the dust (orange) and gas emission (cyan).Credits: NASA/CXO/Lau et al

    The team used SOFIA data to estimate the total mass of dust in the cloud from the intensity of its emission. The investigation required measurements at long infrared wavelengths in order to peer through intervening interstellar clouds and detect the radiation emitted by the supernova dust.

    Astronomers already had evidence that a supernova’s outward-moving shock wave can produce significant amounts of dust. Until now, a key question was whether the new soot- and sand-like dust particles would survive the subsequent inward “rebound” shock wave generated when the first, outward-moving shock wave collides with surrounding interstellar gas and dust.

    “The dust survived the later onslaught of shock waves from the supernova explosion, and is now flowing into the interstellar medium where it can become part of the ‘seed material’ for new stars and planets,” Lau explained.

    These results also reveal the possibility that the vast amount of dust observed in distant young galaxies may have been made by supernova explosions of early massive stars, as no other known mechanism could have produced nearly as much dust.

    “This discovery is a special feather in the cap for SOFIA, demonstrating how observations made within our own Milky Way galaxy can bear directly on our understanding of the evolution of galaxies billions of light years away,” said Pamela Marcum, a SOFIA project scientist at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

    For more information about SOFIA, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/sofia

    or

    http://www.dlr.de/en/sofia

    For information about SOFIA’s science mission and scientific instruments, visit:

    http://www.sofia.usra.edu

    or

    http://www.dsi.uni-stuttgart.de/index.en.html

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.
    NASA

     
  • richardmitnick 4:26 pm on March 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA SOFIA, ,   

    From SOFIA: “NASA’s SOFIA Finds Missing Link Between Supernovae and Planet Formation” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    March 19, 2015
    Felicia Chou
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-5241
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Nicholas Veronico

    SOFIA Science Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
    650-604-4589 / 650-224-8726

    nicholas.a.veronico@nasa.gov / nveronico@sofia.usra.edu

    Kate K. Squires

    Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. 

    661-276-2020 

    kate.k.squires@nasa.gov

    1
    SOFIA data reveal warm dust (white) surviving inside a supernova remnant. The SNR Sgr A East cloud is traced in X-rays (blue). Radio emission (red) shows expanding shock waves colliding with surrounding interstellar clouds (green). Image Credit: NASA/CXO/Herschel/VLA/Lau et al

    [These two following telescopes are clearly present in the above credit, important to the mission, but unnamed by the writers]

    ESA Herschel
    ESA/Herschel

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO/VLA

    Using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an international scientific team discovered that supernovae are capable of producing a substantial amount of the material from which planets like Earth can form.

    These findings are published in the March 19 online issue of Science magazine.

    “Our observations reveal a particular cloud produced by a supernova explosion 10,000 years ago contains enough dust to make 7,000 Earths,” said Ryan Lau of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

    The research team, headed by Lau, used SOFIA’s airborne telescope and the Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, FORCAST, to take detailed infrared images of an interstellar dust cloud known as Supernova Remnant Sagittarius A East, or SNR Sgr A East.

    2
    Supernova remnant dust detected by SOFIA (yellow) survives away from the hottest X-ray gas (purple). The red ellipse outlines the supernova shock wave. The inset shows a magnified image of the dust (orange) and gas emission (cyan). Image Credit: NASA/CXO/Lau et al

    The team used SOFIA data to estimate the total mass of dust in the cloud from the intensity of its emission. The investigation required measurements at long infrared wavelengths in order to peer through intervening interstellar clouds and detect the radiation emitted by the supernova dust.

    Astronomers already had evidence that a supernova’s outward-moving shock wave can produce significant amounts of dust. Until now, a key question was whether the new soot- and sand-like dust particles would survive the subsequent inward “rebound” shock wave generated when the first, outward-moving shock wave collides with surrounding interstellar gas and dust.

    “The dust survived the later onslaught of shock waves from the supernova explosion, and is now flowing into the interstellar medium where it can become part of the ‘seed material’ for new stars and planets,” Lau explained.

    These results also reveal the possibility that the vast amount of dust observed in distant young galaxies may have been made by supernova explosions of early massive stars, as no other known mechanism could have produced nearly as much dust.

    “This discovery is a special feather in the cap for SOFIA, demonstrating how observations made within our own Milky Way galaxy can bear directly on our understanding of the evolution of galaxies billions of light years away,” said Pamela Marcum, a SOFIA project scientist at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

    SOFIA is a heavily modified Boeing 747 Special Performance jetliner that carries a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches (2.5 meters) at altitudes of 39,000 to 45,000 feet (12 to 14 km). SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center. The aircraft observatory is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center facility in Palmdale, California. The agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, is home to the SOFIA Science Center, which is managed by NASA in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart.

    For more information about SOFIA, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/sofia

    or

    http://www.dlr.de/en/sofia

    For information about SOFIA’s science mission and scientific instruments, visit:

    http://www.sofia.usra.edu

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.
    NASA

     
  • richardmitnick 1:26 pm on January 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA SOFIA   

    From SOFIA: “NASA’s Airborne Observatory Begins 2015 Science Campaign” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    January 14, 2015

    Felicia Chou

    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-5241

    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Nicholas A. Veronico

    SOFIA Science Center, Moffett Field, California

    650-604-4589 / 650-224-8726
    nicholas.a.veronico@nasa.gov
    nveronico@sofia.usra.edu

    1
    NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is seen performing ground tests prior to its first science flight of 2015. The year’s first mission was flown on the night of Jan. 13/14, with the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) spectrometer on board.
    Image Credit: NASA/USRA/Greg Perryman

    The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, Program began its third season of science flights on Jan. 13, 2015. SOFIA is NASA’s next generation flying observatory and is fitted with a 2.5-meter (100-inch) diameter telescope that studies the universe at infrared wavelengths.

    “Last night’s flight used the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) spectrometer to study the chemical composition and motions of gas in a star-forming region, a young star, and a supernova remnant,” said Pamela Marcum, NASA’s SOFIA project scientist. “Observing at infrared wavelengths enables us to see through interstellar dust to record the spectral signatures of molecules in these regions. From this we can study the abundances of molecules and their formation process.”

    Water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs infrared radiation, preventing a large section of the infrared spectrum from reaching ground-based observatories. SOFIA is a heavily modified Boeing 747 Special Performance jetliner that flies at altitudes between 39,000 to 45,000 feet (12 to 14 km), above more than 99 percent of Earth’s atmospheric water vapor giving astronomers the ability to study celestial objects at wavelengths that cannot be seen from ground-based observatories.

    “The flights in January will conclude SOFIA’s second annual observing series, known as Cycle 2, and the observatory will begin the Cycle 3 programs in March,” said Erick Young, SOFIA’s observatory director and a member of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) team that operates the SOFIA Science Center at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. “Plans for Cycle 3 include 70 flights with more than 400 hours of science observations. The observations will span a broad range of astronomical topics including the interstellar medium, star formation, stars, bodies in our solar system, and extrasolar planets.”

    The observatory is expected to make a deployment to the Southern Hemisphere in June 2015, with science flights based out of Christchurch, New Zealand. There scientists will have the opportunity to observe areas of interest such as the Galactic Center and other parts of the Milky Way that are not visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

    For more information about SOFIA, visit:


    http://www.nasa.gov/sofiahttp://www.dlr.de/en/sofia

    For information about SOFIA’s science mission, visit:


    http://www.sofia.usra.eduhttp://www.dsi.uni-stuttgart.de/index.en.html

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SOFIA is a joint program of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and is based and managed at NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), headquartered in Columbia, Md., and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

    NASA

     
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