Airborne infrared astronomy. Alan Meyer (left) and Roger Hildebrand seen during a flight of the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO). The screen displays show the image made by the alignment telescope (left) and the infrared telescope (right). The KAO is a converted Lockheed C-141A Starlifter aircraft, containing a 90-cm infrared telescope. Flying at up to 12,500 meters, the KAO can cruise well above most of the atmospheric water vapor,, which absorbs far-infrared radiation. The KAO also contains computerized data reduction and analysis stations. Operated by NASA, the first flight of the KAO was in January  NASA AMES Research Center at Moffett Field, Mountain View, California. Infrared telescope looking at gas clouds.