NASA has scheduled a press conference for next Monday (26) at 13:00 (Brasilia time) where it promises to announce an “exciting discovery” about the Moon made using the Sofia infrared telescope. According to the agency, the discovery contributes to its efforts to learn more about the Moon in support of deep space exploration missions.
There are no further details on what will be announced, but there is mention of the Artemis program, which aims to bring astronauts back to the Lunar surface in 2024 in preparation for humanity\’s “next leap”, the exploration of Mars in the early 2030s. The event will be broadcast, in audio only, on NASA\’s YouTube channel.
In January of this year, NASA released an incredibly detailed image of the center of our galaxy, taken with the Sofia infrared telescope. The equipment is mounted on a modified Boeing 747SP, which flies at a height of 11 km. At this altitude, the equipment is above 99% of the atmosphere blocking infrared radiation, which results in exceptionally clear images of the universe.
Among the highlights of the image are the arcs cluster, with the highest density of stars in the galaxy, and the quintuple cluster, which contains stars a million times brighter than our sun. The black hole at the center of the Milky Way, called Sagittarius-A, is also visible as a bright spot near the center of the image.
The image is a composite of information collected by Sofia with data obtained by NASA\’s Spitzer and European Union\’s Herschel space observatories. The data was obtained in July 2019 during Sofia\’s annual mission to Christchurch, New Zealand, where scientists study the skies of the Southern Hemisphere. The complete, calibrated dataset is currently available to astronomers worldwide for further research.