JAFFREY — A local teacher’s career is reaching new heights.

Susan Rolke, who teaches science at Conant High School, was one of 28 teachers nationwide selected to participate in the SETI Institute’s NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, according to a news release from the institute.

The program is a professional development opportunity for high-school science teachers aiming to bolster science education and literacy. In addition to online and in-person training, teachers spend a week at a NASA research center in Palmdale, Calif.

While there, teachers accompany scientists on an overnight research flight on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) — a modified 747, equipped with a specialized infrared telescope, that flies at 35,000 to 45,000 feet, according to Rebecca McDonald, director of communications for the SETI Institute.

Flying high in the atmosphere eliminates visual interference that happens closer to earth, aiding astronomers’ observations, she said.

After the program, participants teach a two-week module focused on the electromagnetic spectrum, using examples from SOFIA, according to the release.

McDonald said the teachers’ flight weeks typically happen in the spring.

The SETI Institute is a nonprofit research and education organization based in Mountain View, Calif.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS