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SOFIA's home away from home

The crystal-clear night skies above New Zealand are ideal for scientific observations by NASA’s flying telescope known as SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy).


SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a 2.7 metre reflecting telescope (with an effective diameter of 2.5 metres) and usually based in California.

SOFIA spends winter months at Christchurch Airport, flying 10-hour overnight missions at 38,000-45,000 feet and above 99 per cent of Earth’s infrared-blocking atmosphere, so astronomers on board can study the solar system and beyond in ways not possible with ground-based telescopes.

To learn more about SOFIA, visit their Facebook page or the NASA website.