German and US scientists have completed their inaugural mission in New Zealand investigating the Milky Way galaxy with the help of an airborne telescope.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) project, based in Christchurch, is seeking to discover more about the origins of life, how stars are formed and how the earth was created.
A converted jumbo jet carrying an infrared telescope has made a series of flights out of Christchurch over the past three weeks.
The scientists are leaving New Zealand on Friday and Nasa's mission operations manager Edward Harmon says they will spend the next six months analysing data collected over nine flights.
He says the mission has been a complete success and Sofia will return to Christchurch in two years for a further series of flights.