A night with SOFIA
A SuW editor was allowed to accompany the first measurement campaign carried out from Europe by the NASA and DLR stratospheric observatory. The flight was a complete success - and an unforgettable experience for him.
In the night from September 18 to 19, 2019, the SOFIA airborne observatory completed its first observation flight in European regions. This first measurement campaign, starting from Stuttgart Airport and landing there ten hours later, took us across numerous countries and far out into the Atlantic. As a representative for "Stars and Space" I was allowed to take part: It is an experience that I will probably never forget and which I would like to report here.
SOFIA stands for "Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy". It is a modified Boeing 747SP that has a 2.7 meter telescope installed. But first things first: In the middle of my vacation, on Saturday, September 7, 2019, I received the invitation to participate in SOFIA's first European research flight. You don't have to think long about an opportunity like this, so I accepted straight away. The astronomer Dörte Mehlert, who is responsible for education and public relations at the German SOFIA Institute (DSI), was my e-mail contact. I learned that for this historic event from SOFIA's point of view, several members of the press were invited to take part in the flight, including "Stars and Space" …