SOFIA

  • If other star systems are anything like our own, they’ve probably had turbulent histories of exoplanets smashing into each other. And now, astronomers have found evidence of just such a cataclysm happening in the relatively recent past.
  • Earth is a famously wet planet, but where all that water came from in the first place remains a mystery. New observations of a comet that whizzed by Earth a few months ago show that it contains “ocean-like” water – and this may apply to other previously-dismissed comets too.
  • Astronomers have finally found the very first molecule to ever form in the universe. The helium hydride ion (HeH+) has long been a key theoretical part of how the chemistry of the cosmos kicked off. Now the first unambiguous evidence of the molecule in a planetary nebula has been found​.
  • A team of University of Arizona researchers led by Kate Su have used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) flying observatory to take a closer look at a system 10.5 light years away and discovered it has a familiar general structure.
  • ​The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has detected the presence of atomic oxygen in the upper atmosphere of Mars. The observation is the first of its kind for 40 years, and will allow planetary scientists to refine their models of the Martian atmosphere.
  • NASA scientists are eager to get to grips with a new toy for observing the heavens, the Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph (EXES). Mounted on a heavily-customized Boeing 747, the spectrograph will detect wavelengths unavailable from sources either on land or in space.