A balloon-borne telescope has delivered video images of the sun’s bubbling, gassy surface in details we’ve never before been able to see.
The collaborative project between the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau and partners in Germany, Spain and the USA, launched the largest solar telescope ever to have left Earth from the ESRANGE Space Centre in Kiruna, northern Sweden, on June 8, 2009. The balloon and telescope was launched into the earth’s stratosphere, where the camera could zoom in on the Sun in ultraviolet light, and be undisturbed by air turbulence. After separating from the balloon, SUNRISE parachuted safely down to Earth on June 14th, landing on Canada’s Somerset Island, with 1.8 terabytes of data in tow. The 5 days of recorded data are still being analyzed, but you can see by the video above that the images are extraordinary.
With enough data, our understanding of the Sun’s activities, and the results of those activities on the heat transmitted to Earth, can be simulated in complex research models. More info here.