National Large Solar Telescope, An Ambitious Project
Post on 13,February 2018   1:46 AM
By - PolyEyes Staff
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In March 2017, Union Government unanimously passed a proposal for diversion of forest land from the Changthang, Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir for the establishment of National Large Solar Telescope (NLST).This project of NLST would be implemented by Bangalore based, Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP).

What is National Large Solar Telescope? After protests in Hawaii in the US against the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, the largest to be built, alternative sites are being explored which includes Hanle in Ladakh. India is a 10 per cent partner in the TMT project, which includes China, Japan, Canada and the US. On the Indian side, the project is being handled by the Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of Atomic Energy.

About NLST:

  • It will be a 2- m class, multipurpose and state- of- the- art solar telescope (NLST).
  • NLST would be a unique research tool for the country and will attract several talented solar astronomers to the country.
  • NLST will be the largest solar telescope in the world, because till recently, only one meter class solar telescopes are in existence throughout the world.
  • NLST will be larger than the current solar telescopes such as the 1.5-m German telescope GREGOR (on Tenerife) and the 1.6-m New Solar Telescope at Big Bear.
  • It will be capable of doing both day and night astronomy because of unprecedented high spatial resolution.
  • It will fill the longitude gap between Japan and Europe. Currently, there is no telescope between these regions.
  • It will provide high spatial resolution that would provide crucial information on the nature of magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere.
  • It will help in understanding the formation and decay of sunspots by using Helioseismology, which is a powerful technique for probing the solar interior using acoustic Oscillations.

Why Ladhak Region for NLST? High altitude region which will fundamentally enhance the NLST capacity.

Prolonged region of sunshine, clear sky (high visibility) with low sessional variation.

Low concentration of aerosol and dust particles in sky.

Lower wind speed and presence of mild gusts and direction; also the laminar winds blowing in favorable conditions.

Concluding Remark: dIndia is already building edge sensors, actuators and system support assemblies, besides contributing to the software of TMT. India is expected to invest $212 million in the project. However, given the importance of the project, in terms of finance and its scientific value, the project partners are also looking at alternate sites, both in the northern and southern hemispheres. These include sites in Chile, Hanle, Ladakh and others which are all being evaluated for technical and logistical suitability. It is also expected that on-site civil work on the project may be delayed by about 18-24 months.

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