SOFIA is more than a telescope tucked into a re-purposed commercial airliner. It's a complete flying astronomical observation platform which carries a dozen or more astronomers, observers and crew far above the clouds to observe objects and phenomena too cold to be seen in visible light.
The Obama Administration’s new budget for NASA was released last week, and calls for cuts to many space programs. But one California-based project is likely to get more money. The SOFIA flying observatory, a telescope mounted on an airplane, is considered more nimble and cost-effective than other projects. Reporter Lauren Sommer recently caught a ride as it flew over the Pacific Ocean.
The world is not as dark as it used to be. Light pollution can come directly from light bulbs, or it can bounce off of dust and water droplets in the air, creating a bright haze called skyglow. But there are ways to dim the lights and reduce their effects—and save energy in the process.
Artist Kate Nichols longed to paint with the iridescent colors of butterfly wings, but no such pigments existed. So she became the first artist-in-residence at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to synthesize nanoparticles and incorporate them into her artwork.