Airborne scientists search distant stars for complex organic molecules

A Rensselaer-led Astrobiology team will be among the first to be granted access to the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). During a series of nighttime flights on this airborne observatory, the team will make observations to search newly born stars for the presence of precursors to life. The scientists, led by Doug Whittet, director of the New York Center for Astrobiology at Rensselaer, will use the observatory’s infrared spectroscopic capabilities to search for a suite of molecules in clouds of dust and gas surrounding the stars. Their work is part of the first season, or cycle, of research to be performed aboard SOFIA, the largest airborne observatory in the world.  Click here for the full story.

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