Friday, July 27, 2012

Reason #245: Burns So Good

It's been a while since I did a pretty-picture-themed Space Friday, so here is the highest-resolution image ever taken of the surface of the sun.

On July 11, the High Resolution Coronal Imager was launched into suborbital space for a whirlwind ten minutes, during which time it focused its lens on the "extreme ultraviolet" range of one particular sunspot, producing the most detailed images of the corona ever by a factor of five--a video sequence of which can be found at the link.

The mission was intended not only to give solar researchers a whole new level of data to pore over, but as a demonstration of NASA's light and efficient "sounding rocket" program, which was able to get the teensy 464-pound telescope into orbit and back with little to no fuss, and will likely be the model for a lot of quick missions like this in the future.

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