August 1, 2011.
Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is the new generation airborne observatory station based at NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility, Palmdale, CA, to study the universe. Since the observatory detects infrared energy, water vapor is a concern in the atmosphere due to its known capacity to absorb infrared energy emitted by astronomical objects. Although SOFIA is hoping to fly above 99% of water vapor in the atmosphere it is still possible to affect astronomical observation. Water vapor is one of the toughest parameter to measure in the atmosphere, several atmosphere models are used to calculate water vapor loading; currently a model from Goddard Space Flight Center is being enlisted for this task. The water vapor loading, or Water vapor, is being calculated by Matlab along the planned flight path. Over time, these results will help SOFIA to plan flights to regions of lower water vapor loading and hopefully improve the imagery collection of these astronomical features.
NASA Armstrong (Formerly Dryden) Flight Research Center
This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation.