Inouye Solar Telescope at sunset Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF
By Dr. Thomas Rimmele, Associate Director National Solar Observatory
The National Science Foundation’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is now transitioning to its operations commissioning phase (OCP). Starting on December 6, 2021, and weather permitting, DKIST will perform first science observations, implementing observing experiments submitted by community members during the first proposal call. With the exception of some “punch list” closeout activities scheduled for January, the DKIST construction project is now officially complete! This marks an incredible milestone for the DKIST team and the entire community. The project was completed on-time, on budget, and delivered its promised scope.
The formal end of DKIST construction also marks the beginning of a new and equally-exciting phase. The next years will see the scientific output from the observatory ramp up as observations based on community proposals are conducted. Operating such a complex telescope, with its state-of-the-art instrumentation is a tremendous challenge and comes with a steep learning curve for all involved. In addition, the data center is under development in Boulder. The data center will curate and store the complex data, calibrate it, and distribute it to scientists and the public. Once data from a proposal has been calibrated, the team of investigators will have exclusive access to the data for six months, after which it will be made publicly available.
The DKIST team has done a tremendous job keeping the construction project and the transition to operations on track during very challenging times. We appreciate your continued patience and support as we ramp-up to full steady-state operations.
A formal media release with details of the first science experiments will be released in the near future.