by Landen Lewis

SOFIA flying in the Antarctic Circle, RHS teachers on board!

Last week, SOFIA, the 747sp infrared telescope, went up with our very own Sue Napier and Remco Baars on board!

Remco and Sue journeyed on an eleven-hour long flight and went up into the Antarctic Circle with the goal of measuring the amount of water in certain areas of space.  Sue and Remco were chosen out of a pool of interested scientists and were among the first to respond to the offer.   They enjoyed a relatively smooth flight, which was one of many that NASA provided.  It is of note that the plane does not have on-board oxygen masks, but rather hoods that the passengers are supplied. 

From the platform of the flying stratospheric telescope, soaring at 43,000-35,000 feet, the Southern Lights can be seen in brilliant splendor and size. The telescopic equipment is changed from flight to flight, in accordance with what is being measured.  This means that the telescope you would see if you went onto the plane is likely to be completely different from the one Remco and Sue got to see on their flight!

To find out more about the Stratospheric Observatory, go to

Remco Baars on board SOFIA — Image by: Remco Baars

Sue Napier checking out SOFIA'S telescope — Image by: Remco Baars