Utah teacher chosen by NASA set to fly to edge of space

Sep 12, 2022, 6:04 PM | Updated: 6:30 pm

DRAPER, Utah — A Draper Park Middle School science teacher heads up to the stratosphere Tuesday on a once-in-a-lifetime flight.

Jeen Muir is part of the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors, a NASA-affiliated teacher training program. Only a select number of educators are chosen to participate after going through an application process.

She’ll be onboard a specialized aircraft called SOFIA, which stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. The modified Boeing 747 airplane is considered the world’s largest flying observatory. It has a 100-inch telescope on board.

“It feels like a normal airplane flight for us when we were out, ” said Milo Maughan, who went on the flight in December. “Because it is a modified one, all of the seats are taken out.”

Muir is in California now ahead of her flight to the stratosphere. She will fly up into the stratosphere Tuesday night, where she’ll be shoulder to shoulder with NASA scientists.

“We got to watch the scientists in action gathering their data, analyzing it, getting excited about different things and interacting with them,” Maughan said. “They had a wide variety of experiences they had come from that had gotten them to where they were. Maybe the main unifying thing was their passion about science. They loved science and doing what they did, but they all came from different walks of life.”

He said he is excited for Muir to go on the trip.

”Take it all in, enjoy it while you can,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go ahead and do what she’s able to do. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be the annoying one. Be yourself out there. Geek out and have fun.”

Muir is trained at the SETI institute in Palmdale, CA. There, she prepares for flight and works with the scientists.

“The things we were looking at specifically were some galaxies and nebula. They were gathering infrared radiation on those objects,” Maughan said.

Maughan said the flight takes off at sunset and arrives back around sunrise.

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Utah teacher chosen by NASA set to fly to edge of space