Nasa has released the highest resolution pictures of the Sun's corona ever captured.

The High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) camera was launched from New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range earlier this month.

The 10-foot-long rocket took 165 images of the sun during its 10 minute flight, before returning to Earth.

The extreme ultraviolet wavelength images it brought back are the clearest pictures of the sun's million-degree atmosphere ever released.

Hi-C can see features about 135 miles in size.

Nasa worked with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics to capture the remarkable images.

Dr Robert Walsh, university director of research at UCLanhttp://www.uclan.ac.uk/, said: "These first images taken by the Hi-C camera are truly awe-inspiring and have surpassed our expectations.

“We are now able to analyse structural aspects of the Sun at a level of complexity we’ve never been able to achieve before."

He added that "the image quality is comparable to looking at a reflection in a steamed up mirror and then wiping it clean to reveal the true detail".

Nasa said the images can help it understand how the Sun works and how solar weather might impact Earth.

"These revolutionary images of the sun demonstrate the key aspects of Nasa's sounding rocket program, namely the training of the next generation of principal investigators, the development of new space technologies, and scientific advancements," said Barbara Giles, director for Nasa's Heliophysics Division.

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  • Hi-C Views the Solar Corona

    NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, captured the highest-resolution images ever taken of the sun's corona in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength. The innovative telescope, launched on a sounding rocket at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico July 11, 2012, focused on a large active region on the sun.

  • Hi-C Views the Solar Corona

    Shown in green to enhance detail, Hi-C's images reveal detailed tangles of magnetic field, channeling the solar plasma into a range of complex structures.

  • Hi-C Views the Solar Corona

    The resulting images reveal the dynamic structure of the solar atmosphere in the finest detail ever seen.

  • Hi-C Views the Solar Corona

    The High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, was successfully launched on a Black Brant sounding rocket from the White Sands Missile Range at White Sands, New Mexico.

  • Hi-C Views the Solar Corona

    Members of NASA's Hi-C team prepare to recover the one-of-a-kind telescope at White Sands Missile Range following the sounding rocket's successful launch on July 11, 2012.