March 4, 2014 in Astronomy & Space / Space Exploration
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.