January 11, 2012: Several important aerodynamic evaluations have been completed on the SOFIA, a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that will carry a telescope so big and so powerful that it can detect the invisible energy of astronomical objects not visible to the human eye.
The SOFIA, which stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, will be the largest airborne observatory in the world, and will make observations that are impossible for even the largest and highest of ground-based telescopes.
In an article that appeared in the January 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs®, the Dryden Flight Research Center (based in Edwards, California, USA) is reporting that evaluation testing of the telescope cavity environment of the SOFIA has been completed. Specifically, the closed- and open-door configuration of the aircraft has been analyzed. Testing included: acoustic analysis tool development, cavity acoustic evaluation, stability and control parameter estimation, air data calibration, and external flow evaluation.
The control algorithms for the door opening mechanism (built by MPC Products, now Woodward MPC) were developed with a rapid prototyping system consisting of a DS1005 Processor Board and various I/O boards from dSPACE.
The SOFIA is a collaborative project of NASA and the DLR.
NASA’s SOFIA website
DLR’s SOFIA website