NASA's Airborne Astronomy Program

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Session 34 -- Airbourne Astronomy
Display presentation, Tuesday, 9:30-6:30, Pauley Room

[34.01] NASA's Airborne Astronomy Program

E. W. Dunham (NASA/Ames), H. P. Larson (University of Arizona)

A program of astronomy from aircraft has been conducted from NASA's Ames Research Center over the past quarter of a century. This program has evolved to provide astronomers routine access to infrared wavelengths unavailable from the ground, and the means to observe transient astronomical events from anywhere in the world.

The major facility in this program has been the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO), a 0.9 meter telescope in a Lockheed C-141 aircraft. The KAO has made roughly 70 science flights per year for astronomers from the U.S. and foreign institutions since 1975. The broad spectral regime available from the operating altitude of 41,000 feet, covering most of the spectral region from 0.3 \mm. to 1600 \mm., allows for the study of a multitude of rich and varied physical processes, thus permitting KAO scientists to achieve an impressive variety of important astronomical results. The KAO also serves as a stimulus for the development of unique focal plane instruments, and supports active teacher education programs (FOSTER and SiS). We review some of the airborne astronomy program highlights as an introduction to the poster session on airborne astronomy.

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