December 5, 2013
This is one of NASA's newest tools for looking deep into space -
It's called the stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy- SOFIA - for short.
SOFIA is a converted 747 with a 100 inch infrared telescope inside - designed to complement the Hubble space telescope and it is easier and cheaper to upgrade than a satellite.
As part of its mission - SOFIA carries teachers and students aboard to do their own research
Ryan Lau has flown seven times - and he's made a significant discovery
Ryan found very fine dust particles orbiting a super massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
Scientists from around the world are lining up for a seat.
Sofia has already contributed to four major breakthroughs in astronomy.
The SOFIA mission costs $80 million dollars per year.
NASA has committed to a 20 year mission that ends in 2027.