Airborne observatory
An airborne observatory is an airplane or balloon
Research balloon
Research balloons are balloons that are used for scientific research. They are usually unmanned, filled with a lighter-than-air gas like helium, and fly at high altitudes....

 with an astronomical telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

. By carrying the telescope high, the telescope can avoid cloud cover
Cloud cover
Cloud cover refers to the fraction of the sky obscured by clouds when observed from a particular location...

, pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

, and carry out observations
Observational astronomy
Observational astronomy is a division of the astronomical science that is concerned with getting data, in contrast with theoretical astrophysics which is mainly concerned with finding out the measurable implications of physical models...

 in the infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 spectrum, above water vapor
Water vapor
Water vapor or water vapour , also aqueous vapor, is the gas phase of water. It is one state of water within the hydrosphere. Water vapor can be produced from the evaporation or boiling of liquid water or from the sublimation of ice. Under typical atmospheric conditions, water vapor is continuously...

 in the atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...

 which absorb
Water absorption
During the transmission of electromagnetic radiation through a medium containing water molecules, portions of the electromagnetic spectrum are absorbed by water molecules...

s infrared radiation.

Examples of airborne observatories include the Kuiper Airborne Observatory
Kuiper Airborne Observatory
The Gerard P. Kuiper Airborne Observatory was a national facility operated by NASA to support research in infrared astronomy. The observation platform was a highly modified C-141A jet transport aircraft with a range of 6,000 nautical miles , capable of conducting research operations up to 48,000...

 and the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center to construct and maintain an airborne observatory. NASA awarded the contract for the development of the aircraft, operation of the observatory and management of the American part of the...

. Balloons for X-ray astronomy have been used in a variety of countries.
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