SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy)

This illustration shows NASA's SOFIA in shades of blue. SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft, and so it is shaped like a commercial airplane, with the NASA and German Aerospace Center (DLR) logos on its tail.
Historical DateDecember 20, 2022
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An illustration of NASA's SOFIA, a modified Boeing 747 aircraft. The colors depicted in this illustration are for artistic purposes only.

SOFIA carried a reflecting telescope that observed the cosmos in infrared light. It flew into Earth's stratosphere, up to about 45,000 feet (13,700 meters), and collected data during 10-hour overnight flights, observing the Moon, planets, stars, nearby galaxies and more. SOFIA was a joint project of NASA and the German Space Agency at DLR.

First Flight: April 26, 2007
Final Flight: Sept. 28-29, 2022