For the first time, scientists have peered at the stars using the newly installed telescope aboard NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the largest airborne observatory in the world. <br /><br />During the night of Aug. 18-19 in its first 'on-sky test,' the telescope was pointed at the star Polaris. A crisp white dot appeared on astronomers' computer screens inside the aircraft, demonstrating that the telescope's basic optical, mechanical and software systems all are functioning properly. <br /><br />"This is an important milestone from an engineering perspective, because all the telescope subsystems have been integrated on the aircraft for the first time, and it substantiates all the engineering design and interface work performed on both sides of the Atlantic," said Kaiser Adeni of NASA Ames Research Center and NASA's deputy chief engineer for the SOFIA Project. <br /><br />NASA press release via SpaceflightNow..