Chasing Pluto’s shadow: Timaru students meet NASA pilot at Ara

News News & events

21 Jul 2017

As part of the Aerodynamix school holiday programme at Ara Institute of Canterbury, top NASA pilot Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Antimisiaris spoke to students about his work aboard the SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy craft), which is currently based in Christchurch.

Watch the video:

Timaru students Shekinah Welford from Opihi College and Kit Lloyd from Roncalli College were part of the week long programme for year 11 -13 students. The students designed and built mini rockets to explore laws of stability, resistance and motion as part of engaging STEM-based activities.

For SOFIA pilots, missions at the edge of space, up to 45,000 feet, are all in days, or a nights, work. Astronomers aboard the craft will request specific positions of SOFIA to access data via infra-red, heat seeking, instruments that can look into deep space.

Once that meant chasing the shadow of Pluto, which moves across the earth at 17,000 miles/hour, calling for coordinated split-second calculations and flight skills. Two valuable seconds of flight data was captured.

NASA pilot Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Antimisiaris with students from the Aerodynamix school holiday programme.

It is Manny’s second visit to Ara. He and his team visit Christchurch annually but are usually based at the NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.