WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
CLOSEOpt Out: I already like WMFE!

Like us on Facebook!

Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

NASA’s Aerial Telescope Chases Neptune’s Moon Triton

NASA's SOFIA observatory at Daytona International Airport. Photo: Brendan Byrne

NASA’s aerial telescope will chase the shadow of Neptune’s moon tonight on one of its first missions flying from Florida.

The SOFIA observatory is a modified 747 jumbo jet that flies high in the Earth’s stratosphere to give astronomers better images of distant stars.

Thursday’s observation will try to capture images of what’s called an occultation, kind of like an eclipse. When Neptune’s moon Triton passes in front of a nearby star, astronomers will measure what its atmosphere is made of.

Observing from the air gives astronomers a clearer picture, says Chief Scientific Adviser Eric Beckland.

“The clouds are really a factor, so we’re trying to get above the clouds. We also want to fly pinpoint to the exact point of where the occultation will occur so flying really helps out a lot,” said Beckland on a practice mission earlier this week.

SOFIA has flown over 400 missions. The aircraft’s first flight from Florida was earlier this week on a practice run for tonight’s observation, taking off from Daytona Beach International Airport.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

As Producer for Intersection, Brendan Byrne is responsible for the production of WMFE’s weekly news and in-depth conversation show. When not working on Intersection, he covers news from the Space Coast. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to Central Florida in 2005 to ... Read Full Bio »