The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers by Emily Levesque explores the world of astronomy and what scientists go through to study the cosmos. Within the book, Emily also mentions some of the newer technology involved with the observation of space.
In order to get closer to space, astronomers have started moving their telescopes and observation areas closer. Many telescopes are located on remote mountain tops, but SOFIA takes it to a new level, literally. SOFIA is an acronym for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. Basically, SOFIA is a Boeing 747-SP that has a 2.7-meter telescope attached to it. This plane is able to go up to forty-five thousand feet, then open a door that has the telescope behind it. Scientists are able to observe space from onboard the flight and get data they might not normally get using a traditional telescope. SOFIA isn’t the first of its kind, with NASA’s Learjet, Galileo Airborne Observatory (1965 – 1973), Galileo II (until 1985), and Kuiper Airborne Observatory (the mid-1970s – 1995) all leading the way for SOFIA in 2010. Check out the video below for a tour of SOFIA and more information.
LSST or the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is currently under construction at the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile. This telescope is 8.4 meters and will have a camera that will produce images 3.2 gigapixels big. That’s equal to 1500 HDTVs placed beside each other. As it scans and documents the night sky, LSST will produce, process and store about 30 terabytes of data every night. Due to this amount of data, the fiber network at LSST is designed to handle six gigabits of data per second. The goal of LSST is to, over a course of 10 years, scan space taking about 800 pictures of each coordinate of the night sky. LSST is bound to be one of the most technologically advanced facilities in the world. You can learn more at the official website: lsst.org.
Just as many other professions have been adapting to working online, astronomers have also have been working remotely. As far back as 1968, computers have been utilized to use a telescope without being actually there. Now remote viewing is becoming more and more popular. There are certain advantages to being able to observe from home, which includes reduced altitude sickness, oxygen deprivation, and travel costs. The negative side of astronomers working from home are much like any profession in that they run the risk of internet issues, household distractions, and other responsibilities of daily life.