A flying telescope? Observing NASA's SOFIA airborne observatory
NASA gives tours of its Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, a modified Boeing 747 that offers up unprecedented clarity for Earth-based telescopes.
NASA this past weekend offered up tours of its recently souped up airborne telescope, built inside a modified Boeing 747 aircraft. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is the world's largest airborne observatory.
SOFIA carries a telescope with a 100-inch reflecting mirror that conducts astronomy research not possible with ground-based telescopes, NASA said. It's normally housed at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., but CNET got to see it Friday at a press event at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.
Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden said SOFIA is a unique tool, one which will help scientist to further understand the astrobiology of the universe, including the origins of life.
Among those who were encouraged to participate in a tour and "tweet-up" of sorts on Saturday were NASA's Twitter followers and the public at large.
Join CNET for the following audio-slideshow tour of the SOFIA observatory: