Funding for US-German airborne observatory cut

Mar 04, 2014
In this 1998 photo provided by NASA and Universities Space Research Association (USRA) shows a modified Boeing 747SP jetliner containing the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) infrared observatory, a project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center. The White House released its budget on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, that proposes to mothball the observatory unless Germany and other partners can kick in more money. (AP Photo/NASA/USRA)

NASA plans to mothball its infrared airborne observatory unless it can get some financial help from international partners.

The White House budget released Tuesday proposes to slash funding for the U.S.-German project from $84 million to $12 million.

NASA is the main backer of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA for short.

The 40,000-pound telescope is mounted in the rear of the former Pan Am jetliner. Flying between 39,000 feet and 45,000 feet, the telescope scans the skies for celestial objects that give off radiation in infrared wavelengths, which are not visible to the human eye.

NASA says the observatory will continue its mission through September. If there's no extra funding, then the space agency will have to put it in storage.

This April 20, 2010 file photo shows the bay of a modified Boeing 747SP jetliner containing the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) telescope at a NASA Dryden Flight Research Center test facility in Palmdale, Calif. The White House released its budget on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, that proposes to mothball the observatory unless Germany and other partners can kick in more money. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

In this April 20, 2010, file photo, the telescope control console is seen inside the aircraft at the first public viewing of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a cooperative venture between NASA and German scientists, where a 2.8-meter (98-inch) telescope has been mounted inside specially modified Boeing 747-SP, at a NASA Dryden Flight Research Center test facility in Palmdale, Calif. The control mechanism for the telescope is seen at rear. The White House released its budget on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, that proposes to mothball the observatory unless Germany and other partners can kick in more money. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

In this April 20, 2010, file photo, U.S. and German flags are seen on the side of the aircraft at the first public viewing of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a cooperative venture between NASA and German scientists, where a 2.8-meter (98-inch) telescope has been mounted inside specially modified Boeing 747-SP, at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center test facility in Palmdale, Calif. The White House released its budget on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, that proposes to mothball the observatory unless Germany and other partners can kick in more money. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)


Explore further: SOFIA set to begin cycle two astronomy observations

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Space image: Through the looking glass

Jun 15, 2011

The NASA logo on Bldg. 703 at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., is reflected in the 2.5-meter primary mirror of the SOFIA observatory's telescope.

SOFIA observatory on first overseas deployment

Sep 22, 2011

On Sept. 16, at 10:10 a.m. local time, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, lifted off from its base at Palmdale, Calif., flying east en route to Cologne, Germany, for its first international ...

NASA's SOFIA Observatory Obtains 'First Light' Imagery

May 27, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, successfully obtained its first in-flight, nighttime celestial observations during its “First Light” mission early Wednesday ...

SOFIA set to begin cycle two astronomy observations

Nov 06, 2013

NASA, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the SOFIA Science Center, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) have announced the selection of 51 investigations to study the universe using the Stratospheric Observatory ...

Recommended for you

Caterpillar comet poses for pictures en route to Mars

2 hours ago

Now that's pure gorgeous. As Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring sidles towards its October 19th encounter with Mars, it's passing a trio of sumptuous deep sky objects near the south celestial pole this week. ...

Hoisting a telescope with helium

2 hours ago

Many a child has forgotten to hold tight to the string of a helium balloon only to have it escape and rise until it disappeared in the glare of the sun. Helium balloons want to rise, but launching a balloon ...

User comments : 0