A spacecraft launched in February is already beaming back to Earth the closest photos ever taken of the sun.
NASA released the images Thursday from the Solar Orbiter, a joint project between the European Space Agency and NASA.
"These unprecedented pictures of the sun are the closest we have ever obtained," said Holly Gilbert, NASA project scientist for the mission at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "These amazing images will help scientists piece together the sun's atmospheric layers, which is important for understanding how it drives space weather near the Earth and throughout the solar system."
The ESA's Solar Orbiter project scientist Daniel Mueller said, "We didn't expect such great results so early. These images show that Solar Orbiter is off to an excellent start."
On June 15, the orbiter was 48 million miles from the sun and snapped several images. Other spacecraft have ventured closer to Earth's star, but no photos of it had ever been taken that close.
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