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Nasa Launches IRIS Solar Probe From Underside Of A Tristar Aircraft (VIDEO)

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The sun, pictured by Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory
The sun, pictured by Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory

Nasa has successfully launched its latest mission to study the sun from the underside of an Orbital Sciences Lockheed TriStar aircraft.

Powered by a Pegaus XL rocket, which burst into life after being dropped from the plane, the 7-foot-long Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (Iris) satellite was launched into orbit to study our star and how it affects life on Earth.

Weighing just 183 kilograms, the satellite will be able to return images of the sun every few seconds, at a rate of 15 megabits per second.

The mission is the eleventh of Nasa's Small Explorer program, and the 42nd launch of the Pegasus rocket.

"We are thrilled to add IRIS to the suite of Nasa missions studying the sun," said John Grunsfeld, Nasa's associate administrator for science in Washington. "IRIS will help scientists understand the mysterious and energetic interface between the surface and corona of the sun."

Watch the launch as it happened, above.

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