Fly with SOFIA in 2015!
SOFIA in flight. 
(NASA/Jim Ross)

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is now accepting applications for the  Cycle 3 – 2015 Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) Program. The AAA program is an exciting and unique opportunity for educators.  The teams that are selected receive online astronomy instruction, and a trip to Palmdale, CA to participate in two SOFIA Science Flights. The science flights offer educators interaction with astronomers, engineers and technicians on board the aircraft, and a view to the collaboration that leads to astronomical data collection and the research papers that follow. 
 
The eligibility and program requirements are summarized below and detailed at http://www.seti.org/sofia. In brief, one team member must be a science teacher, the other team member may be a teacher, informal educator (e.g.- educator at a science center, librarian implementing community programming), or amateur astronomer. The program pays all costs. 
 
 Applications are due December 22, 2014.
 
SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program summary:
 
SOFIA is a 747SP aircraft carrying a 2.5 meter-diameter telescope dedicated to astronomical research at altitudes up to 45,000 ft. The scientific research team, including AAA program participants, work in the pressurized main cabin. The 8 – 10 hour flight experience will be similar in environmental conditions to a regular commercial airline flight, although interior noise level will be higher and the cabin will be cooler. Participants  will observe an operating astronomical facility first-hand and interact with scientists, engineers, and flight crew.
 
The program aims to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in communities across the U.S.; support NASA’s objective to advance the Nation’s STEM education by engaging students, teachers and faculty in NASA’s missions and unique assets; contribute to general public understanding of the value of scientific research; and foster national and international visibility of NASA’s SOFIA mission.

 
SOFIA AAA Cycle 3 selected educator team members each commit to participate in overnight observing mission(s) aboard SOFIA during science flights likely to be scheduled during May, June, and September 2015 (actual dates TBD); participate in pre- and post-flight training and meetings associated with SOFIA flights and scientific research; travel to SOFIA’s base in Palmdale, CA on a Sunday or Monday and depart the following Friday or Saturday (program covers all costs); develop or modify existing materials, and implement a SOFIA-oriented classroom curriculum component and/or informal education curriculum component of their design; plan and implement a SOFIA-oriented public outreach component of their design; successfully and complete the online Astronomy  For Teachers course administered by Montana State University and the National Teacher Enhancement Network (NTEN). The course will be held mid-February – mid-May, and will require approximately 12 – 15 hours of work per week.

This is a very exciting program! Again, for more information and to apply go to 
http://www.seti.org/sofia.
Image of SOFIA ambassadors working on a flight

Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (from left) Constance Gartner, Vince Washington, Ira Hardin and Chelen Johnson at the educators' workstation aboard the SOFIA observatory during a flight on the night of Feb. 12-13, 2013. (NASA / SETI Institute / Pam Harman)
Image and text from SOFIA press release