This is the closest photo of the sun ever taken

July 16, 2020

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This is the closest picture ever taken of the Sun. It was released from the Solar Orbiter mission led by the European Space Agency and was taken using the orbiter's Extreme Ultraviolet Imager instrument. According to Nature:

The pictures, taken by the ultraviolet imager on 30 May and released on 16 July, were captured 77 million kilometres from the Sun's surface (Earth is about 150 million kilometres from the Sun). A daring NASA mission called the Parker Solar Probe has flown even closer and will get within just 6.2 million kilometres during its mission -- inside the corona itself -- but the environment is so harsh that it does not carry a camera facing the Sun. Meanwhile, on Earth, the Daniel K. Inoye Solar Telescope in Hawaii has taken higher-resolution images of the Sun than the orbiter, but these do not fully capture the star's light, because Earth's atmosphere filters out some ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths.

Scientists are excited about the potential of the Solar Orbiter, an international collaboration that launched in February and carries ten instruments to image the Sun and study its environment. The spacecraft will eventually switch its orbit to study the Sun's polar regions for the first time. "We've never been closer to the Sun with a camera, and this is just the beginning of a long epic journey with Solar Orbiter, which will take us even closer to the Sun in two years' time," said Daniel Müller, the mission's project scientist, at the briefing.

Well there's definitely a lot more detail than the time I stared at the sun with binoculars. I couldn't make out the corona or solar flares or anything. I mostly just saw burning and pain. And weirdly now I can't see anything at all.

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