NASA’s AAA (Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors) led by SETI completed their 2018 season with the successful journey of two night research flights on SOFIA the Infrared Astronomy Stratospheric Observatory at the end of October.
Stephan Unterhoizner, James Wright, and Joseph Verderame, three professors’ ambassadors, underwent rigorous professional development training at the NASA Airborne Center based in Palmdale, California during the week of their flight with SOFIA. The teachers in this group were all high school teachers in the Manteca Unified School District which is in the Central Valley of California. Dana Backman, AAA Program lead and member of the SETI Institute Education facilitated the experience of the Team Flight.
The Echelon-Cross-Scale Spectrograph (EXES) instrument was fitted on the SOFIA telescope during the two flights. The EXES spectrograph produces spectra with high resolution in the range of average infrared wavelengths. These spectra allow examination, for an instance, to learn the chemical reactions in the stellar and planetary atmosphere.
This was for the first time in the US AAA program, one of SOFIA’s flights to this group was shared with four German Ambassador teachers accompanied by Dr. Antje Lischke-Weis of the German SOFIA Institute in Stuttgart.
Stephan Unterholzner, American teacher said, “It was fascinating to meet our German colleagues and find out how comparable it was, but how dissimilar the educational environment is in our particular nations.” We had a great time mutually at SOFIA and during the week in Palmdale.”
A Fresno CBS TV-47 crew was present during the flight week and produced a multi-segment chronicle on SOFIA. The third segment introduced teachers of Manteca. The application window for next year’s AAA program, Cycle 7, is stopped and submissions are being evaluated. The SETI Institute will declare the Cycle 7 participants in early 2019.
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