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Visualized: Telescope aboard suborbital NASA rocket takes clearest ever images of sun (video)


NASA has shown just what it can do with the short window of science allowed by its "sounding" or sensor-equipped suborbital rockets -- having taken the sharpest pictures ever of the sun's corona. A 460-pound telescope called the High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) was lofted for about 10 minutes into space, ample time for its mirrors to capture over 150 images of the solar fringe at 16-megapixels each, before parachuting back to earth. The scope shot exclusively in a sun-friendly high ultraviolet range and used innovative new optics consisting of an array of mirrors, allowing it to resolve the sun down to 135 miles. That bested the previous champ, NASA's own Solar Dynamics Observatory, with almost five times the magnification. For maximum effect, the space agency took advantage of an unusually high amount of solar activity to focus on a large, active sunspot. To see the results in glorious multihued HD, check the video after the break.

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