SOFIA Opens Its Door

In this video taken from NASA’s F/A-18 chase plane, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), fully opens its telescope’s door on a flight near Edwards, California on December 18, 2009. The one-hour, 19-minute flight was the first time outside air had interacted with the part of the airplane that carries the 98-inch telescope. The blue tufts around the door, similar to parachute cord, help aerodynamic engineers see the flow of air around the fuselage. Doing so allows them to determine if there is any unusual turbulence around the opening. The door, designed in a wind tunnel, has proven to be effective, with no noticeable drag when it is either partially or fully open. (1:41)

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