747SP as flying observatory

NASA 747A.jpg

NASA has invested almost two decades and $500 million on modifications to N747NA, a former Pan Am and United Air Lines mainline aircraft that is now a research platform called the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (Sofia).

Mounted in the rear of N747NA – in Section 46 – is a 19t telescope with a 2.5m (98.4in) primary mirror, 100mm larger than the Hubble Space Telescope’s mirror, that scientists will use to study infrared and far-infrared light above 99% of the water vapour that interferes with such measurements from the ground.

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