PART 1: Hello again
PART 2: Local publicity about LFS
PART 3: Another Passport to Knowledge project
PART 4: Status of the SOFIA
PART 5: You can help design SOFIA



It has been a while since you received any mail from this 
Live from the Stratosphere maillist. Since the active part of the project 
ended last November, the Kuiper Airborne Observatory retired from active 
service. So there hasn't been much to share.

However, the process of creating SOFIA (the successor to the Kuiper)
is happening at a furious pace.  The SOFIA project has hired Bob
Hillenbrand to develop educational programs so that when the new
aircraft is complete, it will strongly serve the K-12 community (in
addition to its mainline service to astronomers).  Bob is a teacher
Stratosphere family informed of progress on SOFIA.  So about once
per month you can expect an update report.


Local publicity ABOUT LFS

This is a CALL to each of you to help us document our collective LFS
experience.  For now, we would very much like to obtain copies of
media coverage of the Live From the Stratosphere project. We ask
that anyone who is aware of coverage of any type (newspaper,
TV, etc.), PLEASE submit the articles and send video tapes
of your event coverage to:

Phone: (908) 273-4108.

For those that delivered material based on our first request last
Fall, there is no need to resend the information. But for those who
never sent the local material, please consider doing so.  This type of
publicity goes a long way in helping us convince potential funders
that there is a healthy payback for their investment.  And this in
turn helps us deliver these project for minimal cost.


Another Passport to Knowledge project

Live From the Hubble Space Telescope (LHST) is the latest chance to peak
behind the scenes at NASA. LHST will follow the folks who research with
and operate the world's most powerful optical telescope. But this time,
we won't just be watching....we'll be participating in the mission. For the
first time ever, the Space Telescope Science Institute has dedicated three
full orbits (~4.5 hours) of telescope time towards the K-12 community.
In December, students and educators debated what object to observe with
our precious HST time. Together we reached a consensus that Pluto and
Neptune would be our targets.  When the data comes down, it will belong
to us. In addition, Professor Reta Beebe donated an additional orbit from
her scheduled research for us to study Jupiter. Now, the Hubble Space
Telescope crew is busily preparing for these orbits.

In addition, since this project is led by the Passport to Knowledge team,
we'll also be providing live television coverage of some events as well
as a 48-page Teacher's Guide to help educators integrate the HST events
into their classrooms.

To join us on this learning adventure, please send an email message to:
In the message body, write only these words:
    subscribe updates-hst

Or visit our continuous construction Web site at

To make sure that you stay informed about future opportunities (our
fingers are crossed for Shuttle-MIR and Mars Pathfinder), please sign
up for our project announcement list. To do this, send email to:
In the message body, write only these words:
    subscribe sharing-nasa

We hope that together we'll find ever-better ways to make NASA
-YOUR- space agency, especially for K-12 classrooms.


Status of the SOFIA
Bob Hillenbrand

January 23, 1996:
Currently, another major observatory is coming to life - SOFIA. The
Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy will soon release
proposals for construction of an airborne infrared telescope  larger
than the Hubble.   This compact telescope specifically designed to
study infrared phenomena will be carried aboard a Boeing 747 to the
edges of the stratosphere. Here, far above the blocking effects of
water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,  scientists will spend 7
hours or more exploring the birth of stars, the exotic molecules and
dust particles in space, and even gain clues to the origins of life
itself. SOFIA continues another tradition by flying educators and
others providing the unique opportunity to accompany researchers in
their quest to explore the universe. The hope is to share the SOFIA
experience with to as many as 600 teachers each year !  You may
remember "Live From the Stratosphere", which provided a virtual
flight aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory for teachers and
students. This type of virtual field trip will be expanded
significantly with SOFIA operations.

Join with us and follow the development of the SOFIA program over
the next several years as the hopes and dreams of scientists, engineers, 
and educators become reality. You can influence some of those visions 
right now by responding to our "I Helped Design SOFIA"
activity (see below). Your suggestions WILL make a difference and
you may get a chance to fly on SOFIA. In the coming weeks we will
be introducing some SOFIA Prototype Labs. We would appreciate your
input on these. We will have monthly SOFIA Reports explaining some
of the things happening in the SOFIA Program. And, finally we are
planning several Online Chat Sessions in which you can talk with
some of the people of SOFIA. 

So please join us as we go to work in the stratosphere !



The SOFIA Project is progressing and we would like your
suggestions. SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared
Astronomy ) will be a major new airborne astronomical observatory,
replacing the recently retired C-141 based KAO. The Kuiper Airborne
Observatory successfully made astronomical history for 20 years. It
is envisioned that SOFIA will fly for at least as many years,
extending man's knowledge of the infrared universe far beyond
today's capabilities. 

The SOFIA Education/Outreach Office would appreciate your input in
helping NASA expand on the experiences learned from KAO. You may
want to review the activities of the FOSTER PROGRAM 
(http://airsci-www.arc.nasa.gov/kao/KAO_Info/Foster.html) which
used KAO to take teachers to the edges of space. We are planning to
provide flight opportunities for ordinary people to fly aboard SOFIA
to experience the thrill of actual astronomical research and
discovery. SOFIA mission participation will be expanded beyond
educators to include interested citizens from many walks of life.
Consideration is being given to amateur astronomers, the media,
high school and college students, and people with scientific
interests beyond astronomy who can use SOFIA for their

In the "I HELPED DESIGN SOFIA" opportunity we would like your ideas
and suggestions. Explain in 50 words or less what kinds of activities
YOU would like to do if YOU could fly aboard SOFIA at 41,000+ feet.
SOFIA will be as close to flying aboard the Space Shuttle as most
people will ever experience. The Infrared Telescope will be supplied
by DARA of the Federal Republic of Germany. The 2.5 meter
instrument flying aboard the modified 747 will be larger than the
Hubble Space Telescope. SOFIA will be the largest airborne
astronomical observatory ever constructed following a successful
heritage of NASA programs devoted to unlocking the secrets of the

For the I HELPED DESIGN SOFIA project our Education/Outreach
Office would like to know a bit about YOUR background. What are
your interests, occupation, age, and your mailing address (both
postal and e-mail) ? In return SOFIA will send you a Certificate of
Appreciation and place you on our future mailing lists. And, as a
bonus, consideration is being given to perhaps offering the author of
the best essay an opportunity to ACTUALLY FLY aboard SOFIA when it
becomes operational in 2001 ! 

Since this is an Internet Project from the SOFIA offices at NASA
Ames Research Center all replies are to be sent directly via e-mail
to the SOFIA Project Educator. Remember, your input is important
and will be used in actually assisting NASA in the design of
facilities aboard SOFIA. You can play an important role in the
development of a major NASA program, the Stratospheric
Observatory For Infrared Astronomy. We will keep you posted on the
world wide web as the design progresses. 

Send all responses to: bob_hillenbrand@qmgate.arc.nasa.gov 


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