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Once validated, the technologies developed will also be useful in future space missions. Applications in ground-based astronomy are also expected. SOFIA's ability to return to Earth after each flight enables frequent opportunities for upgrading and installing new science instruments, permitting ongoing development of new astronomical technology throughout its lifetime.

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SOFIA's Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program gives middle- and high-school teachers and science museum educators hands-on experience in scientific and astronomical research as they work with scientists during missions on the flying observatory. Educators take what they learn during their SOFIA training and flights back to their classroom and their communities to improve curricula and generate interest in STEM-related courses and careers.

Training is also provided for undergraduate and graduate-level scientists, engineers and technologists by enabling their participation in the design and development of instruments, as well as the execution and analysis of astronomical observations made using the SOFIA telescope. Development Status Sustained science operations are scheduled to begin in late Leading up to that milestone, SOFIA will undergo alternating periods of science flights and long-term development of the observatory, including installation of upgraded software and hardware control systems, commissioning of science instruments, avionics modernization and routine maintenance of the aircraft.


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The completion of these tasks will result in sustained use of the observatory for many years to come, enabling infrared astronomy of the highest caliber. SOFIA continues the legacy of prominent planetary scientist Gerard Kuiper, who championed airborne astronomy in using a inch telescope aimed through a window of a converted Learjet.

His work led to the development of NASA's Kuiper Airborne Observatory, a modified C aircraft incorporating a inch reflecting telescope that flew from to During its year lifetime, the Kuiper Observatory focused on solar system, galactic and extra-galactic astronomy, and was used in the discovery of the rings of Uranus, a ring of star formation around the nucleus of the Milky Way, luminous infrared galaxies, complex organic molecules in space, and water in comets. April Trujillo and University of Oklahoma's Nathan Kaib ran computer simulations for how different hypothetical Planet X orbits would affect the orbit of TG Most of the simulations showed that not only was TG's orbit stable for the age of the Solar System, but it was actually shepherded by Planet X's gravity, which keeps the smaller TG away from the massive planet.

This gravitational shepherding could explain why the most-distant objects in our Solar System have similar orbits.


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  4. These orbits keep them from ever approaching the proposed planet too closely, which is similar to how Pluto never gets too close to Neptune even though their orbits cross. These simulations do not prove that there's another massive planet in our Solar System, but they are further evidence that something big could be out there" Trujillo concludes.

    Lowell is a private, non-profit institution dedicated to astrophysical research and public appreciation of astronomy and operates the DCT in partnership with Boston University, the University of Maryland, the University of Toledo, Northern Arizona University and Yale University. This paper includes data gathered with the 6. Materials provided by Carnegie Institution for Science.

    Note: Content may be edited for style and length. Science News.

    Planetary Astronomy: Recent Advances and Future Discoveries With Small Aperture Telescopes

    ScienceDaily, 2 October Carnegie Institution for Science. Retrieved September 28, from www. It is the first known solar system object that has been detected at a distance that is more than The planet, which is about 1, light-years from Earth in the direction of the Since then theorists have puzzled over how this Then, in the s, astronomers

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