A 10-minute rocket ride brought back the most detailed pictures of the sun ever taken.
On July 11, 2012, NASA launched a sounding rocket that carried a solar telescope on a 620-second flight to space and back. About a minute into the ride, the rocket—called Hi-C, for High-Resolution Coronal imager—reached an altitude where Earth's atmosphere no longer blocked the extreme ultraviolet light the telescope was designed to observe. From this vantage point, Hi-C snapped images that revealed the dynamic structure of the super-hot solar atmosphere in five times sharper detail than ever before. Hi-C captured details 135 miles across; the previous record-holder, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), captures details about 675 miles across. Watch the video to see a side-by-side comparison of imagery from Hi-C and SDO.