NASA's Zaheer Ali On SOFIA, The Infrared Telescope Unlocking New Mysteries Of The Milky Way

In a video interview, Zaheer Ali, senior manager for the USRA Science and Mission Operations, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), discusses the development and future of the world's largest airborne telescope.

Using mid- and far-infrared light allows SOFIA to penetrate the layers of space dust surrounding the Milky Way and capture new details about the galaxy. (Image source: NASA/SOFIA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Herschel)

NASA kicked off 2020 by releasing a stunning new image of our Milky Way galaxy. The composite infrared image spanned over 600 light years across and was made possible thanks to NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope.

SOFIA's uses infrared light to capture imagery that's inaccessible to other space telescopes and will give scientists new insights into star and planet formation. Imagery from SOFIA, combined with data from the Herschel Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope, will help scientists plan targets for future telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2021.

Ahead of his keynote speech at DesignCon 2020, Zaheer Ali, senior manager for the USRA Science and Mission Operations at SOFIA, spoke with DesignCon brand director, and former head of content for Design News, Suzanne Deffree about the development of SOFIA and where the project is heading next.

Watch the video below as Ali discusses the unique challenges of capturing infrared imagery from the stratosphere, the future of SOFIA, and why Antartica is the best place to take photos of the galaxy.

Ali will be delivering a keynote, “Microchips in Space: How Device Design Enables Amazing Astronomy” on Thursday, January 30 at DesignCon 2020 in Santa Clara, CA.


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January 28-30: North America's largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? 
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