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NOAO Newsletter - National Solar Observatory - September 2000 - Number 63


From the NSO Director's Office

Steve Keil

The frontiers of high-resolution solar imaging continue to be pushed by NSO and our partners at the Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik (KIS) and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)/Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO). The low-order adaptive optics system spent the spring months at the KIS-Vacuum Tower Telescope (VTT) on Tenerife, where it was used to feed the KIS Triple-Etalon Solar Spectrometer (TESOS). The accompanying article describes the observations and gives WWW links to some of the results. The system is now back in Sunspot to support observing runs in the July-September quarter. Experiments with Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) are underway at both NSO and KIS. In collaboration with KIS and NJIT/BBSO, NSO has started to develop a high-order AO system that will fully correct the Dunn Solar Telescope at Sacramento Peak, the planned German GREGOR Telescope, and the 64-cm telescope at BBSO.

Progress towards a new large-aperture (~4-m) solar telescope is beginning to accelerate. Because of a conflict in acronyms with the NSF Astronomy Division (NSF/AST), we have slightly modified our acronym from the Advanced Solar Telescope (AST) to the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST). The scientific goals remain unchanged. NSO hosted an open community workshop in conjunction with the AAS/SPD meeting at Lake Tahoe in June. The workshop focused on science objectives for the ATST and the telescope parameters driven by those goals. The issue of site testing to locate the ATST was discussed in depth and the formation of a site-testing team was begun.

NSO is now spearheading the development of a proposal to the NSF to begin the ATST design and development phase. If you are interested in participating but have not yet been approached, please contact us as soon as possible.

Mechanisms for community involvement in ATST were discussed at the June community workshop. There was considerable interest in community involvement in instrumentation development and in the overall telescope design. More than a dozen scientists gave overviews of what they saw as the main telescopes drivers for developing an Advanced Technology Solar Telescope. Various means of community participation were considered, including internal compe-tition among partnering institutions for instrument packages, funded co-investigators for specific telescope development tasks, and funding for parallel development of the models and theory needed to refine science requirements and to fully exploit the ATST.

The NSO Long Range Plan (LRP) is now available. If you would like a copy, please e-mail nso@noao.edu or visit our WWW site at http://www.nso.noao.edu/lrp/. The LRP covers plans for the ATST, upgrading of the GONG network to high-resolution helioseismology observations, continued development and operations of the SOLIS instruments, implementation of high-order solar adaptive optics, our infrared program, and operation of the current NSO facilities.

On 11-15 September 2000, the 20th NSO/Sac Peak Summer Workshop on "Advanced Solar Polarimetry--Theory, Observation, and Instrumentation" will focus on the recent progress made in the investigation of solar magnetic fields and on future projects in the framework of solar polarimetry and modeling of solar magnetic fields. You'll hear more about the meeting in the next (December) newsletter.

Several personnel changes have taken place over the past few months. K. S. Balasubramaniam (Bala) has joined the NSO staff at Sunspot. Bala worked for the USAF at Sunspot prior to taking an eight-month sabbatical to sample the Chicago stock market. Bala's research interests encompass origins of solar activity and high-resolution imaging. Haosheng Lin left NSO-Sunspot to join the staff at the University of Hawaii. Alexei Pevtsov joined the NSO staff at Sunspot in July. Alex comes to us from Montana State University, where he was engaged in modeling and observing solar magnetic fields and activity. Han Uitenbroek joined the NSO staff at Sunspot in August. Han has spent the last several years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, working in the areas of radiative transfer for chromospheric lines and IR observations of chromospheric structure. Han is an experienced user of the IR systems on the McMath-Pierce Telescope.


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