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NASA Picks Upgrade for SOFIA Infrared Telescope

SOFIA flying with observatory door open. Credit: NASA/DLR photo

NASA said April 17 that it had selected complementary proposals from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and its own Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to upgrade a science instrument onboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

SOFIA is a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft equipped with a German-built, 2.5-meter infrared telescope.

NASA spokesman J.D. Harrington said NASA asked two of the 11 teams responding to last year’s SOFIA second-generation instrument investigation solicitation to collaborate on an upgrade to the flying observatory’s High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera.

The upgrade allow, which Harrington said will cost “several million dollars,” will allow the observatory to measure the structure and strength of magnetic fields in diverse objects throughout the universe, such as star-forming clouds and galaxies.

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