Ah, science. How you intrigue me. Take for instance what NASA is up to. Their Stratospheric Observatory Infrared Astronomy or SOFIA airborne telescope is nearing its first day on the job (though that’s still three years away) and the device just got its picture taken for all to see.
Made by modifying a Boeing 747, the SOFIA features a 2.5-meter telescope and just received a High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultation. This latter object will make it possible to measure the surfaces of objects and atmospheres. The last tests are now underway and scientific missions will begin in 2011.
While not a space telescope, the SOFIA will suffer greater daily wear and tear when put into commission. That’s why so much care has gone into constructing its door system and vibration handling. Since it will be up in the air, it should be able to take much clearer pictures without as much atmospheric interference.