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Telescope Gets Unprecedented Images of the Sun

Fri, 07/26/2013 - 12:48pm
Associated Press, Marcia Dunn

This combination of images, made available by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, shows a comparison between the higher resolution provided by the new ISIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph), right, and the SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) spacecraft. Launched in June 2013, NASA's IRIS has a scheduled mission of two years. Scientists say the observations will help shed light on the sun's impact on Earth. Image: AP Photo, NASA, Goddard Space Flight CenterNASA is getting an unprecedented close-up look at the sun, thanks to a new telescope.

NASA's IRIS spacecraft, launched just a month ago, already is providing detailed pictures of the sun. The telescope's door opened last week, and it began observing the lower solar atmospheres in never-before-seen detail. The early results were announced Thursday and hailed by the research team as exciting.

NASA's science mission directorate chief, former astronaut John Grunsfeld, says it's "a grand opening of a new era in solar physics."

IRIS is short for Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph. It will continue its mission for the next two years. Scientists say the observations will help shed light on the sun's impact on Earth.

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