NASA: Taking to the Sky


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Wispy clouds are illuminated by a bright quarter moon behind the tail of NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, flying observatory during telescope characterization testing in 2008. SOFIA will complement the Hubble, Spitzer, Herschel and James Webb space telescopes and major Earth-based telescopes. The mission, a joint program by NASA and DLR Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Center), features a German-built 100-inch (2.5 meter) diameter far-infrared telescope weighing 20 tons mounted in the rear fuselage of a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. Image Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)