Kuiper Airborne Observatory

The Kuiper Airborne Observatory ( KAO) is a named after Gerard Kuiper Peter Cassegrain telescope with a 91.5 inch diameter mirror, is housed in a converted military transport aircraft Lockheed C- 141A. It was used from 1974 to 1995 by NASA primarily for infrared astronomy. With the KAO the Uranus rings were, among others, on 10 March 1977 the coverage of the star SAO142857 discovered by the planet Uranus.

The idea to accommodate an infrared telescope aboard an airplane goes back to G. Kuiper. This was first realized in the 1960s when a small infrared telescope through astronomical observations were made through a window of the NASA research aircraft Galileo.

Direct predecessors of KAO was put into operation in 1967 Lear Jet Observatory ( LJO ). It was an aircraft Learjet 24, had been in which a cabin window removed and replaced with an opening for an infrared telescope with a mirror diameter of 30 centimeters.

The Kuiper Airborne Observatory was decommissioned in 1995. When his successor SOFIA end of 2010 led by its first observation.

C- 141A -714 NASA KAO

KAO in flight

Telescope of the KAO with technicians

KAO and SOFIA, Ames Research Center in 2008

Telescope and operator area in the KAO