[PICS] SOFIA trip report

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felixomat
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[PICS] SOFIA trip report

Postby felixomat » 02 Mar 2017, 22:12

Hi friends.

As some of you may know, I had the chance to join a mission on SOFIA Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy ex Palmdale / California two weeks ago. SOFIA is a joint project by NASA and DLR (German).

Following long negotiations and tons of communication, references, etc. I was finally invited by NASA to come over and join a full night observatory flight on board their Boeing 747 SP registered N747NA. The B747SP is indeed ex PanAm, first flight April 1977 and named Clipper Charles Lindbergh. The aircraft is provided by NASA, maintenance by Lufthansa Technic Hamburg, whereas the telescope and the majority of the IT comes from Germany.

On the first day with NASA, I had to participate in the mandatory safety and crew training. As there is no regular crew on board but only pilots, engineers, IT people and scientists, everybody MUST have that training for any kind of emergency situation. In addition, everybody needs to join the flight briefing before take off where important topics such as routing, alternate airports, mission targets, weather etc. are discussed.

On the second evening, it was finally time for me to take off ;o))) We left Palmdale at approx. 1830 local time so shortly after sunset and arrived back at approx. 0415 local the following morning, Our routing brought us over the Pacific ocean up to almost Alaska, followed by a right turn heading South East and finally back to PMD. Our trip had four targets to observe : monoceros cloud, drago, orion and the whirlpool galaxy. Aim of the SOFIA is to find out as much as possible about starts, planets, galaxies, etc, new possible earth / sun systems, gravity, water, "birth" of new starts and planets, etc. It is all very scientific somehow and kind of abstract topic - for example considering that the whirlpool galaxy is some 25 MIO (!!!!) light years away from us. But still might have an Impact on all development of the "cosmos", etc...

The infrared telescope - unique on the world - has some 17 tons weight and is located on the right side of the aircraft behind the wing. As it can only work within certain angles within the horizontal (+/-3) as well as vertical (up to 70 degrees) level, the pilots have to adjust the routing / heading of the aircraft constantly.

There are numbers of stories and details to tell, but I think it is worth now to show some pics :

briefing somewhere in the huge hangar :

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the aircraft :

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inside :

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Cockpit :

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and finally examples of the targets :

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For the flight to LAX I decided to go via LHR on Air New Zealand like two years ago.

All the best

Felix

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cargolouk
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Joined: 03 Jul 2016, 19:20

Re: SOFIA trip report

Postby cargolouk » 02 Mar 2017, 22:19

Nice report Felix, with nice pics from your trip ,thanks for sharing :D :D
Kind Regards/Greetz
Louk

The sky is the limit … but the opportunities are unlimited!

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E3Afean
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Re: SOFIA trip report

Postby E3Afean » 03 Mar 2017, 16:16

Nice report! 8-)

Binter4484
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Re: SOFIA trip report

Postby Binter4484 » 03 Mar 2017, 16:54

nice report felix

hiller
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Joined: 03 Jul 2016, 21:43

Re: SOFIA trip report

Postby hiller » 03 Mar 2017, 18:01

Awesome

erps-spotter
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Joined: 09 Jul 2016, 08:29

Re: SOFIA trip report

Postby erps-spotter » 04 Mar 2017, 09:15

Nice done

This must have been a great expierence Felix!

Best regards,

Steven

Nishant
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Joined: 04 Jul 2016, 15:23

Re: SOFIA trip report

Postby Nishant » 04 Mar 2017, 14:20

Lovely report. Thanks for sharing.

I used to live in San Jose near Moffett Field, where SOFIA was a regular visitor. I remember seeing her passing over my house, whilst being outbound from Moffett.

Cheers,
Nish


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