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  • richardmitnick 2:25 pm on November 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    From DKIST via Maui Economic Development Board: “Most Advanced Solar Telescope on Earth” 

    Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope

    Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope,DKIST under construction by the National Solar Observatory atop the Haleakala volcano on the Pacific island of Maui, Hawaii, USA

    Maui Economic Development Board

    November 9, 2016

    The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is on schedule for full operations in June 2020. Situated at 10,000 feet of elevation atop Haleakala, the DKIST will be the most advanced ground-based solar observatory in the world. With more than 20 institutions collaborating internationally, it is about to revolutionize the world of solar astronomy. “We are pointing a four-meter (13 foot) telescope at the Sun for the very first time, which will challenge the science community to take their understanding to a whole new level,” said Dr. Thomas Rimmele, DKIST Project Director, National Solar Observatory (NSO). “When combined with a special adaptive optics system, the DKIST’s primary mirror will produce high-speed measurements to examine the Sun’s surface in stunning detail!”

    The site on Haleakala was selected, out of a global search, for its clear daytime atmospheric seeing conditions. Once operational, the DKIST will allow astronomers to measure the magnetic fields that drive space weather events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. “Understanding the behavior of the Sun’s magnetic fields is vital,” Rimmele explained. “Monitoring space weather is essential as our society increasingly relies on electronics technology that is susceptible to damage from these large space events. DKIST will help us better deal with threats of outages.”

    DKIST Project Manager Dr. Joseph McMullin of NSO provided the latest updates. “The external building has been completed, with the integration of major telescope systems underway. This includes the telescope mount assembly and the rotating instrument laboratory,” McMullin noted. “The optical systems, and the primary mirror, the most critical element of the telescope, have met their challenging, state-of-the-art specifications and are undergoing testing.”

    DKIST’s open data policy will provide the general public access to unique data resources compiled by the best engineers and scientists in the world. “In fact, the DKIST will bring more jobs and educational outreach opportunities to Maui,” Rimmele added. “The scientific impact from the DKIST, for all of humanity, is immense. The entire global community will be looking to Maui for this extraordinary science!”

    See the full article here .

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    The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST, formerly the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, ATST) represents a collaboration of 22 institutions, reflecting a broad segment of the solar physics community. The construction phase of the project, to build the next generation ground-based solar telescope, is underway now.

  • richardmitnick 5:57 am on July 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , DKIST, ,   

    From Boulder Weekly via U Colorado Boulder: “Boosting solar physics” 

    U Colorado

    University of Colorado Boulder


    Boulder Weekly

    June 30, 2016
    Travis Metcalfe

    The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope is designed to image the surface of the sun in unprecedented detail, which will help scientists address fundamental questions about solar physics. Courtesy of dkist.nso.edu

    Shortly after the financial crash of 2008, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to stimulate the economy with $787 billion in government spending on public infrastructure. Although controversial at the time, ARRA was later credited with saving or creating millions of jobs during the Great Recession. The National Solar Observatory (NSO) received $146 million in ARRA funding to help build the largest solar telescope in the world on a mountaintop in Maui, a $344 million project that may not have moved forward without the stimulus. The investment sparked a chain of events that ultimately moved NSO staff from Arizona and New Mexico to the new headquarters in Boulder this year.

    The Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) was nearing its final design review in early 2009, after more than six years of development. Federal science funding had been slowly declining since 2004, so it was unclear whether construction of a large new facility would be feasible. The National Science Foundation (NSF) was already planning to shut down some older solar telescopes. With ATST moving forward, the NSO decided to consolidate its operations to one site. In early 2010, they issued a request for proposals to host the new headquarters. The University of Colorado Boulder was one of seven organizations to respond, and in late 2011 our city was selected over the other finalist in Huntsville, Alabama.

    Boulder has been a national hub for solar physics since Harvard astronomer Walter Orr Roberts founded the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) in 1940. Our first solar observatory was absorbed into NCAR when it was established 20 years later. With the announcement in 2011 that Boulder would soon be home to a second solar observatory, local scientists wondered how long it would take members of Congress to call for a merger of the two organizations. The role of NCAR in climate science made it particularly vulnerable, with numerous politicians looking for ways to slash the budget. The relocation of NSO to Boulder may have been seen as an unprecedented opportunity to cut out a portion of NCAR and give it to solar physicists whose research had less political impact. So far, the concerns have been unwarranted.

    With ATST under construction in Maui, the NSF wanted to inspire a new generation of solar physicists to enter the field. Hosting the NSO headquarters at a university was a strategic decision. Historically, most solar physicists worked at federally funded laboratories rather than universities. As a consequence, relatively few students were being trained in the field, and the demographics of solar physics meetings started to resemble a retirement seminar. The NSF subsidized the creation of faculty positions in solar physics across the country, and the University of Colorado enticed the NSO to relocate to Boulder in part by promising to hire several new faculty positions related to solar physics.

    “By bringing in students, I think we will be able to support NSO in a way that would not have been possible in other cities,” says Axel Brandenburg, visiting professor in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at CU. Brandenburg first came to Boulder in 1992 to work as a postdoctoral fellow in the High Altitude Observatory at NCAR. He has spent the past 15 years working at research laboratories in Denmark and Sweden, but he jumped at the chance to return to Boulder last year for a rotating three-year faculty position in solar physics, created by CU as part of their agreement with the NSO. Earlier this month the university hosted a solar physics meeting for the American Astronomical Society.

    “The overall attendance was dominated by young people,” Brandenburg says, suggesting that the plan is already working.

    Construction of the new telescope in Maui has encountered some resistance from native Hawaiian groups. Although several telescopes were already on the site, the peak where ATST would be located was considered sacred by some indigenous groups.

    “I think it is important to be aware of these concerns and to work with the indigenous people to make it something positive for both sides,” Brandenburg says. In 2013, the project was officially renamed the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) to honor the late senator from Hawaii who had a strong record of support for fundamental scientific research, and astronomy in particular. Brandenburg explains that in Hawaii everyone knows DKI, almost like JFK in the rest of the country.

    When it begins regular operations in 2020, DKIST will be the largest solar telescope in the world. It promises to revolutionize observations of the sun’s magnetic field, which are essential for understanding and predicting the explosive events that create space weather for our planet. The building that will house the telescope and instruments is now complete, and the team is beginning to integrate the major optical systems. The main mirror has a diameter of 4 meters (13 feet), and will generate 13 kW of power at the focus of the telescope, so heat management will be crucial. Local scientists expect DKIST to usher in a new era of solar physics. With NSO headquarters now in Boulder, and CU committed to training a new cadre of students, we can expect our city to remain a national hub for solar physics well into the future.

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    U Colorado Campus

    As the flagship university of the state of Colorado, CU-Boulder is a dynamic community of scholars and learners situated on one of the most spectacular college campuses in the country. As one of 34 U.S. public institutions belonging to the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) – and the only member in the Rocky Mountain region – we have a proud tradition of academic excellence, with five Nobel laureates and more than 50 members of prestigious academic academies.

    CU-Boulder has blossomed in size and quality since we opened our doors in 1877 – attracting superb faculty, staff, and students and building strong programs in the sciences, engineering, business, law, arts, humanities, education, music, and many other disciplines.

    Today, with our sights set on becoming the standard for the great comprehensive public research universities of the new century, we strive to serve the people of Colorado and to engage with the world through excellence in our teaching, research, creative work, and service.

  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on June 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , DKIST, NSO - National Solar Observatory   

    From NSO: “National Solar Observatory’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope On Track to Provide Ground-Breaking Observations of the Sun” 

    NSO bloc

    National Solar Observatory

    June 1st, 2016
    Claire Raftery

    DKIST telescope
    DKIST , Haleakalā, Maui,Hawaii, USA

    Construction of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope is on schedule for operations in 2020, say reports from the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division conference. It will be the highest-resolution solar telescope in the world.

    The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is under development on Haleakalā – the highest peak on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding the facility, which is under development by the National Solar Observatory (NSO) based in Boulder, Colorado. NSO is hosting the Solar Physics conference.

    DKIST Project Manager, Dr. Joseph McMullin provided the latest updates: “The external building has been completed, with the integration of major telescope systems underway. This includes the telescope mount assembly and the rotating instrument laboratory. The optical systems will be coming on board soon.” He also clarified the state of the primary mirror – the most critical element of the telescope: “It has been successfully polished to state-of-the-art specifications at the University of Arizona.”

    “This ground-breaking instrument will revolutionize the world of solar astronomy,” explained Dr. Thomas Rimmele, DKI Solar Telescope Project Director. “We are pointing a four-meter (13 ft) telescope at the Sun for the very first time.” Focusing so much sunlight on the telescope’s science instruments creates significant challenges. The telescope will gather 13 kW of power – approximately ten times that of a typical household’s use in an entire day. Protecting the sensitive electronic components from melting or even evaporating requires advanced cooling techniques. This cooling will be especially needed for the advanced adaptive optics (AO) system that will remove image blur introduced by the Earth’s atmosphere.

    “DKIST’s resolution and sensitivity will permit us to directly and precisely measure the magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere for the very first time,” said Rimmele. “Understanding the behavior of the Sun’s magnetic fields is vital for prediction of space weather events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections.” Monitoring space weather is crucial as our society increasingly relies on technology that is susceptible to damage from these large space events.

    Scientists have successfully measured the solar magnetic field strength close to the Sun’s surface, where the field is relatively strong. Higher in the solar atmosphere, in a layer called the corona, the magnetic field weakens to the strength of a refrigerator magnet. DKIST will be able to detect this weak field.

    DKIST’s capabilities will usher in a new era of solar physics. “DKIST will challenge the science community to take their understanding to a whole new level,” says Dr. David Boboltz – the NSF Program Director for DKIST. “NSF is extremely proud to be sponsoring this innovative facility and looks forward to the new knowledge it will inevitably bring to both the science community and the world at large.” NSF funds DKIST through a cooperative agreement with the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).

    In addition to providing ground-breaking data, DKIST will change how ground-based solar data is distributed. “DKIST has an open data policy, enabling community users to freely and openly access the entirety of available data. Any person looking to increase their understanding of the Sun will have access to a unique data resource; this is unprecedented in ground-based solar physics,” explains Dr. Valentin Martinez Pillet, NSO Director. The DKIST Data Center will be located in Boulder, CO, where data will be shipped via optical fiber directly from Hawaii. Regular science operations of DKIST are scheduled to begin in early in 2020.

    See the full article here .

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    Mission Statement

    The mission of the National Solar Observatory is to advance knowledge of the Sun, both as an astronomical object and as the dominant external influence on Earth, by providing forefront observational opportunities to the research community. The mission includes the operation of cutting edge facilities, the continued development of advanced instrumentation both in-house and through partnerships, conducting solar research, and educational and public outreach. NSO accomplishes this mission by:

    Providing leadership for the development of new ground-based facilities that support the scientific objectives of the solar and solar-terrestrial physics community;
    Advancing solar instrumentation in collaboration with university researchers, industry, and other government laboratories;
    Providing background synoptic observations that permit solar investigations from the ground and space to be placed in the context of the variable Sun;
    Providing research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, helping develop classroom activities, working with teachers, and mentoring high school students;
    Innovative staff research.

  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on December 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From U Arizona: “UA Completes Primary Mirror for Advanced Solar Telescope” 

    U Arizona bloc

    University of Arizona

    December 11, 2015
    Justin Walker
    UA College of Optical Sciences

    The completed primary mirror for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope awaits shipping at the College of Optical Sciences.

    The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, or DKIST, is scheduled to see first light in 2019 on the island of Maui.

    Completion of the $14 million primary mirror for the 4.2-meter Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, which is scheduled to see first light in 2019, was celebrated this week by the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona.

    DKIST telescope
    View of DKIST

    The telescope is under construction by the National Solar Observatory atop the Haleakala volcano on the Pacific island of Maui. It is named after the late Daniel K. Inouye, who was a U.S. senator from Hawaii.

    The telescope, also known as DKIST, features an off-axis, clear aperture design to allow for observations with unprecedented spatial, spectral and temporal resolution.

    “We’re actually going to point this at the sun,” said Thomas Rimmele, DKIST’s project director, who was on hand for the mirror’s completion. “This is an important telescope. It will be transformational for understanding the sun, solar activity and its impacts on humankind.”

    The DKIST primary mirror blank was fabricated by Schott AG of Germany then shipped to the UA for polishing. The UA’s polishing effort was four years in the in the planning and execution, involving more than 50 people from the College of Optical Sciences and Steward Observatory. The polishing alone required an estimated 80 hours a week for six months, utilizing four new measurement techniques.

    “It was daunting to plan out the things we needed to do,” said Jim Burge, a UA professor of optical sciences and astronomy and the project’s principal investigator, citing the mirror’s complex shape and challenging specifications.

    As an example of the research involved, Burge said, eight UA students worked on their thesis or dissertation related to different aspects of the project.

    “Nobody has made a surface like this before,” Burge said. “Nobody has needed a surface like this before.”

    The mirror’s construction was “a research project all the way through,” said Joseph McMullin, DKIST’s project manager.

    The telescope’s site on Haleakala was selected for its clear daytime atmospheric seeing conditions, which will enable study of the solar corona. DKIST will be capable of observing objects on the sun that are about 25 kilometers (nearly 16 miles) across.

    Construction at the DKIST site began in January 2013. Work on the telescope’s housing was completed in September of that year.

    Justin Walker, associate dean of the College of Optical Sciences, praised the teamwork involved in the mirror project.

    “The University of Arizona is known for this kind of work in optical fabrication, which is unmatched by any other university,” Walker said. “We have this breadth of engineering staff that supports our faculty to do cutting-edge science with applied outcomes. It’s a unique capability.”

    See the full article here .

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    U Arizona campus

    The University of Arizona (UA) is a place without limits-where teaching, research, service and innovation merge to improve lives in Arizona and beyond. We aren’t afraid to ask big questions, and find even better answers.

    In 1885, establishing Arizona’s first university in the middle of the Sonoran Desert was a bold move. But our founders were fearless, and we have never lost that spirit. To this day, we’re revolutionizing the fields of space sciences, optics, biosciences, medicine, arts and humanities, business, technology transfer and many others. Since it was founded, the UA has grown to cover more than 380 acres in central Tucson, a rich breeding ground for discovery.

    Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium? An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why the UA is a university unlike any other.

  • richardmitnick 3:24 pm on August 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , DKIST   

    From AURA: “The UK in DKIST” 

    AURA Icon
    Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

    UK Solar Physics

    August 17, 2015
    Lyndsay Fletcher University of Glasgow
    Mihalis Mathioudakis Queen’s University Belfast
    Erwin Verwichte University of Warwick
    On behalf of the UK DKIST consortium members.


    The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope [DKIST] is a 4m ground-based solar telescope currently under construction on the Haleakala mountain on the island of Maui, Hawai’i. It will be the largest solar telescope in the world by some way, with a diffraction limit a factor 3 smaller than that of any existing solar telescope. The UK has now joined the DKIST project, providing the cameras for four of the DKIST instruments. The UK DKIST consortium is financed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, 8 UK universities, and Andor Technology plc. This nugget gives an overview of the DKIST, the UK’s contribution, and the opportunities for all UK solar physicists to get involved.

    DKIST telescope

    The DKIST is led by the US National Solar Observatory (NSO) with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It will operate in the optical and near-infrared and will be the pre-eminent ground-based solar telescope for the foreseeable future. Its adaptive optics will enable diffraction-limited observations with a spatial resolution of 25 km, less than the photon scattering mean-free path in the photosphere — a fundamental physical scale in the visible. It is located at an altitude of 3,000 m on Haleakala, Hawaii, giving the very low scattered light necessary for coronal studies. The DKIST first light will be in 2019, and it will serve the solar physics community to 2050 and beyond.

    Fig 1: The main structural elements of the DKIST dome being installed; the basket on the crane gives an idea of the scale. Source NSO/DKIST.

    The DKIST’s main science goals are:

    What are the building blocks of solar magnetism?
    How is magnetic energy built up, released and transported in flares and CMEs?
    What is the origin of solar variability?

    The key advances in the DKIST’s first-light instruments, which will be used to address these questions, are ultra-high spatial resolution (25 km) and ultra-high time cadence (10’s of ms) imaging, high resolution photospheric and chromospheric imaging spectroscopy and vector magnetometry, plus infrared coronal magnetometry.

    Fig 2: The chromosphere in He 304 from AIA at 1.2″ resolution (right) and the same view in H-alpha from IBIS equipped with a ROSA camera (left) at 0.25″ spatial resolution (click for full resolution). The improvement in spatial resolution offered by DKIST will be about the same again. Image credit: Kevin Reardon PhD (NSO/QUB).

    As a highly sophisticated facility, DKIST will normally be operated in service mode by expert astronomers on behalf of the PIs of observing proposals – like a ‘spacecraft on the ground’. The telescope has five first-generation instruments: VBI -the Visible Broadband Imager; VTF – the Visible Tunable Filter; ViSP – the Visible Spectro-Polarimeter; DL-NIRSP -the Diffraction Limited Near Infra-Red Spectro-Polarimeter and Cryo-NIRSP the Cryogenic Near Infra-Red Spectro-Polarimeter. The first light instrument will be the VBI, for which the UK’s ROSA imager is the prototype. Light from the primary can be shared between the first four of the five listed instruments simultaneously, allowing enormous flexibility in operations and thus science investigations. The Cryo-NIRSP instrument focuses on diagnostics of the faint corona, and will observe by itself, taking advantage of an unobstructed aperture and best coronal seeing conditions. Full details of the instruments can be found here.

    The UK Consortium

    Fig 3: The UK DKIST consortium institutes

    The UK DKIST consortium is led by Queen’s University Belfast, and involves 7 other institutes (Armagh, Glasgow, MSSL, Northumbria, Sheffield, St. Andrews and Warwick). Finance for the consortium has been provided by the STFC, by the UK institutes involved, and Andor Technology plc who are investing internal resources in the camera development. The consortium will provide 9 identical cameras for four instruments on the DKIST, and in return the UK will have some guaranteed access time to the DKIST (in addition to competitively awarded open time). The consortium will also develop and implement aspects of the data analysis toolkit and help members of the UK community become involved with the DKIST science plan, and preparation of observations.

    How to get involved

    The UK DKIST consortium was formed for the benefit of the whole UK Solar Physics Community; it is not necessary to be working at one of the Consortium institutes to propose for observing time. However, the Consortium does aim to co-ordinate UK activities in DKIST, and to provide assistance with understanding the telescope, the instruments, and the process of preparing a proposal. There are two main ways that you can currently get involved;

    Contribute data processing, analysis or forward-modelling software (contact Erwin Verwichte)
    Contribute to the DKIST Critical Science Plan, and propose for observations (contact Lyndsay Fletcher)

    Some of the DKIST’s science topics are described in the science cases. The UK DKIST consortium will be adopting the process for developing DKIST proposals outlined in the critical science plan.

    The DKIST is an exciting new facility that will address many science questions of interest to the UK solar community. It will be able to work in co-ordination with ESA’s Solar Orbiter, though this will take very careful planning. We encourage the UK community to start developing their ideas for ground-breaking new science with the DKIST.

    See the full article here.

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