The bubbling, roiling surface of the sun has been imaged in unprecedented detail, shedding light on the processes at work on the solar surface.
SUNRISE, the largest solar telescope ever to have left Earth was launched from the ESRANGE Space Centre in Kiruna, northern Sweden, on June 8. The 6-ton telescope is dangling from a gigantic helium balloon with a diameter of 427 feet (130 meters).
After launch, SUNRISE reached a cruising altitude of 37 km above the Earth's surface. At this height, the telescope is in a layer of the Earth's atmosphere (the stratosphere) with observing conditions similar to those from space. Air turbulence isn't a factor for SUNRISE as it is for telescopes on the ground, and ultraviolet light from the sun can be viewed, which would be blocked out by ozone at the surface.