SOFIA Stratospheric Observatory got damaged

The Boeing 747, on board of which the SOFIA infrared observatory is located, was damaged by wind during the flight. How this will affect further missions is not yet clear.

Stratospheric Observatory SOFIA. Source: NASA

Stratospheric Observatory was damaged

On July 18, a Boeing 747 with the SOFIA infrared telescope placed on it was damaged during a flight over New Zealand. It is reported that the reason for this was the wind. This observatory was created to catch the rays trapped by the earth’s atmosphere. For this purpose, it is able to rise to a height of more than 12 km.

Thanks to the unique observation conditions, SOFIA has made many discoveries. It could find water molecules in the Clavius crater on the Moon and proved that some galaxies are not as metal-poor as previously thought. Also, with its help, star formation zones have been repeatedly studied.

However, both the plane and the telescope have been working for many years. The operating costs are getting higher. NASA has decided to abandon the use of the observatory until the end of September 2022. But before that SOFIA had to perform a series of observations in the southern hemisphere.

Will the new damages affect the operation of SOFIA?

The current damage is minor. It is reported that during the next flight, a strong gust of wind tore off the steps that were fixed in the front of the aircraft and slightly damaged the body. Now we’ll have to wait until the metal parts are replaced and installed on the plane.

Accordingly, all the studies that SOFIA is supposed to conduct will be postponed. How this will affect their overall schedule is still unknown. In total, the aircraft had to carry out about 30 flights, perform mapping of the magnetic field of the Milky Way and explore how stars interact with their surroundings.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time