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It carries a 2.7m telescope, and offers astronomers a unique opportunity to explore the cosmos.
It can identify objects that emit radiation at infrared wavelengths, which are not visible to the human eye.
Originally posted by L.HAMILTON
With the budget cuts in today's economy along with the curtailing of NASA by the Obama administration , I doubt that this is a scientific study by any means.
The aircraft flies at up to 45,000 feet (13,716m). The high altitude means it is above 99% of the water vapour that absorbs most infrared radiation from space.
In effect, it opens a window to the Universe that was previously obliterated from view, and allows observations to be made that are impossible with Earth-bound telescopes.