NSF’s flagship solar telescope, the largest in the world, heralds a new era of solar science.
New observations have been released to celebrate the launch of the Inoue Solar Telescope.
On August 31, 2022, a delegation of US National Science Foundation (NSF) leaders, dignitaries in Congress, and members of the scientific and Native Hawaiian communities gathered near the summit of Haleakala, Maui to celebrate the opening of the world’s most powerful solar telescope. . NSF’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope is living up to its promise of detecting the Sun in ways never seen before as it nears completion of its first year of Operational Operations (OCP).
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the images and data produced by the Inouye Solar Telescope will write the next chapters of heliophysics research. This includes two stunning new images released to celebrate the events of the past week. For more than 25 years, the National Science Foundation has invested in creating a world-leading ground-based solar observatory to address the most pressing questions in solar physics and space weather events affecting Earth. This vision, implemented by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) through the National Science Foundation’s National Solar Observatory (NSO), was realized during the official opening of the Inoue Solar Telescope.
“NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope is the most powerful solar telescope in the world that will forever change the way we explore and understand our sun,” said National Science Foundation Director, Sethuraman Panchanathan. “Her visions will change how our nation and the planet anticipate and prepare for events like solar storms.”
To celebrate this great occasion, the inauguration brought the NSF leadership, telescope staff, and members of the scientific community together to recognize this historic achievement of bringing the telescope online. Representatives from NSF, AURA, and NSO were joined by key House and Senate staff members from the Subcommittee on Appropriations, Justice and Science and related agencies, as well as key staff from the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology responsible for commissioning and funding the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope.
It is noted that the Inui Solar Telescope is located on a land of spiritual and cultural significance to the Native Hawaiian people. This purposeful website is used to increase scientific knowledge with appreciation and respect. Members of the Inouye Solar Telescope Native Hawaiian Working Group were honored for their valuable role in educating NSF and NSO staff about cultural issues of importance to them and in providing cultural input throughout the construction of the telescope. Hōkūlani Holt, Director of the Ka Hikina O Ka Lā Program at University of Hawaii Maui College, led an opening prayer (prayer) according to Hawaiian cultural protocol.
The Inoue Solar Telescope has embarked on a mission to advance solar energy science, research, and education and strengthen relationships with local communities throughout Hawaii. Since OCP began in February 2022, the Inouye Solar Telescope has collected data for more than 20 accepted scientific proposals and made coordinated preliminary observations of solar energy using NASA’s Parker Solar Probe And the ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter.
“With the world’s largest solar telescope now in scientific operations, we are grateful to all who made this remarkable facility possible,” said Matt Mountain, President of AURA. “In particular, we thank the people of Hawaii for the privilege of working from this wonderful site, to the National Science Foundation and the US Congress for their continued support, and to the Inouye Solar Telescope team, many of whom have tirelessly dedicated the most decade to this transformative project. A new era of solar physics has begun! “
NSF and NSO support the growth and development of Hawaii’s scientific and technical workforce through education and workforce development programs. Hawaii’i and Native Hawaiian students are supported on their journey to careers in STEM through school and community outreach events, participation in the Akamai Workforce Initiative, and the NSF-funded Ka Hikina O Ka Lā Program. The partnership with the National Park Service (Haleakalā National Park) to host Solar Week in 2022 is an example of efforts to bring solar energy science to the general public. Job Opportunities at Inouye Solar Telescope aims to diversify the Hawaii job industry and provide STEM-based career opportunities to the Hawaiian workforce.
The opening puts a stamp on an ambitious multi-decade project to provide the world with its preeminent solar observatory. The celebration honors the collaborative efforts between the many entities and individuals needed to successfully bring the telescope into operations. It marked the beginning of the Inouye Solar Telescope’s 50-year journey to revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, its magnetic behavior, and its impact on Earth.
The National Solar Observatory (NSO) operates the Daniel K. Solar Telescope. Inoue is affiliated with the US National Science Foundation. It is a federally funded research and development center focused on solar energy research, managed by the Consortium of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). The Inouye Solar Telescope and NSO are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through a collaborative agreement with AURA. The Inui Solar Telescope is located on a land of spiritual and cultural significance to the Native Hawaiians. This important site is used to increase scientific knowledge with appreciation and respect.
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