CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is getting an unprecedented close-up look at the sun, thanks to a new telescope.

NASA's IRIS spacecraft, launched just a month ago, already is providing detailed pictures of the sun. The telescope's door opened last week, and it began observing the lower solar atmospheres in never-before-seen detail. The early results were announced Thursday and hailed by the research team as exciting.

NASA's science mission directorate chief, former astronaut John Grunsfeld, says it's "a grand opening of a new era in solar physics."

IRIS is short for Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph. It will continue its mission for the next two years. Scientists say the observations will help shed light on the sun's impact on Earth.

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Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/iris