Sunday, March 9, 2014

SOFIA in the hangar good/bad?

Part of the NASA FY2015 budget is more priority for WFIRST (yay) and the plan to put SOFIA into a hangar for most of the year following its upgrade this summer (boo?).

I'm still in two minds about this. In some ways SOFIA is deplorably late in getting started. Much of the low-hanging fruit science was done with Herschel and done well. On the other hand, it is still very much growing in capability and we certainly have not explored far-infrared discovery space enough.
Plus I would like to see my NHEMESES follow-up program with SOFIA get done.

Preferably with me in the guest observing chair.

But a useful titbit to know is that SOFIA costs about 300k/hour of observing. You can get to space for that. Suddenly rolling it into a hangar and not having it cost this much sounds way more sensible.
However, the NASA budget is not a zero-sum game. And that 300k needs to come down. Maybe the threat of mothballing will get that done.

Also: move over, I want to fly this thing!

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