Nasa to announce 'exciting' new discovery about the Moon made by Sofia flying telescope

Matt Watts
·2-min read
AP
AP

Nasa is to announce an “exciting” new discovery about the moon.

The space agency revealed few details of the discovery but said it “contributes to NASA’s efforts to learn about the Moon in support of deep space exploration.”

The discovery has come from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, also known as Sofia, it said.

Sofia, the world’s largest airborne observatory, is a modified 747 that flies high in the atmosphere to provide its nearly nine foot telescope with a clear view of the universe and objects in our solar system.

Flying above 99 per cent of the atmosphere’s obscuring water vapor at up to 45,000 ft, Sofia “observes in infrared wavelengths and can pick up phenomenon impossible to see with visible light.” Nasa said.

It has been operating since 2010, and has already made a number of discoveries about the universe, including heat pouring out of Jupiter’s interior through holes in its clouds. It has also peered through the dense dust clouds of the Messier 82 galaxy to catch a glimpse of tens of thousands of stars forming.

Nasa has said it will make the announcement at a media teleconference at 5pm UK time on Monday, October 26.

Those taking part in the briefing will be Paul Hertz, Astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters, Washington and Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters.

Sofia, the world’s largest airborne observatory, is a modified 747 that flies high in the atmosphere to provide its telescope with a clear view of the universe
Sofia, the world’s largest airborne observatory, is a modified 747 that flies high in the atmosphere to provide its telescope with a clear view of the universe

Casey Honniball, postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland and Naseem Rangwala, project scientist for the Sofia mission based at Nasa’s Ames Research Centre, in Silicon Valley, California will also speak.

In it statement about the discovery Nasa referenced its Artemis program.

Under the program, it will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024. I will be the first lunar landing with humans since 1972.

Nasa said the trip was “to prepare for our next giant leap – human exploration of Mars as early as the 2030s. Understanding the science of the Moon also helps piece together the broader history of the inner solar system.”