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SOLAR SCIENCE
Hawaii-built Infrared Instrument for World's Largest Solar Telescope Catches its First Rays
by Staff Writers
Honolulu HI (SPX) Apr 13, 2017


The CryoNIRSP instrument exposed in its clean-room environment undergoing tests. From left to rightm Drs. Andre Fehlmann, Jeff Kuhn, and Isabelle Scholl. Image courtesy UH Institute for Astronomy. For a larger version of this image please go here.

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), currently under construction on Haleakala, Maui, is expected to start observing the Sun in 2020. When it does, it will rely on two complex infrared instruments being built by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA). Their goal is to measure the Sun's weak magnetic field.

The first of these to be completed is called the Cryogenic Near-Infrared Spectropolarimeter (CryoNIRSP). In a major milestone, it took its first look at the Sun from the laboratories at the IfA's Advanced Technology Research Center on Maui. The instrument design was lead by Dr. Don Mickey, now retired from the IfA.

Instrument scientist Dr. Andre Fehlmann said, "These first trial images from CryoNIRSP in visible light show that the innovative optical design will be sensitive enough to see the Sun's magnetism." Project manager Dr. Isabelle Scholl added that "CryoNIRSP is being completed in the Pukalani, Maui labs and will be delivered to the summit of Haleakala within a year, when the telescope can accept our instrument."

CryoNIRSP weighs about two tons, and was constructed on a budget of $6M provided by the National Science Foundation. The project leader, Dr. Jeff Kuhn said, "As soon as DKIST becomes operational, this will become the workhorse that local scientists and visitors from all over the world will use to trace the Sun's coronal magnetism and its influence on the Earth."

This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST-0415302. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

SOLAR SCIENCE
Charting the skies of history
Kyoto, Japan (SPX) Apr 10, 2017
Ice cores and ancient sediments can be gleaned for clues to weather and climate in the past. But astronomical phenomena - such as solar flares or auroras - at best leave only faint environmental traces lacking in specificity. So how can we accurately track ancient astronomical events? Now in a collaborative effort between the arts and sciences, researchers at Kyoto University and Japan's N ... read more

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