Each year over the late Autumn - Winter period, Nasa brings its SOFIA plane down to Christchurch to view the skies above New Zealand and Australia.
NASA and DLR's SOFIA Flying Observatory. NASA's airborne observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy or SOFIA, is a 747sp with a hatch that opens mid-flight, offering astronomers a truly unique view of the skies allowing researchers to get into just the right spot to make rare and fleeting observations of our Solar System.
Inside this modified Boeing 747SP is a 2.7-meter infrared telescope that observes the universe from 39,000 to 45,000 feet. The telescope is strong enough to see a $1 coin from 200 kilometres away.
SOFIA as left Christchurch to fly home for the northern Autumn but it won't be long before it is back here in the south.
It was a privilege to be able to see inside this amazing plane.