Mirror for World’s Largest Solar Telescope Accepted on Maui, Demonstration Planned

July 30, 2015, 2:33 PM HST · Updated July 31, 1:09 AM
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Image courtesy Project Aloha ʻĀina.

Image from June 25, 2015 demonstration to block a convoy of telescope equipment to the summit of Haleakalā. File photo courtesy Project Aloha ʻĀina.

By Maui Now Staff

The Northrop Grumman Corporation today announced that the large mirror crafted for the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope atop Haleakalā has been formally accepted for use on Maui.

The announcement comes as demonstrators plan to block a convoy from delivering telescope parts and equipment to the summit tonight.

This is the second time in as many months that individuals opposed to ongoing construction will hold a “Kākoʻo Haleakalā” demonstration.  Various groups participating in the demonstration are opposed to ongoing construction and desecration of what they consider to be sacred land atop some of the state’s highest mountains.

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The group will gather at the intersection of the Mokulele Highway and Nakiʻi Road near the entrance of the Central Maui Baseyard from 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, 2015 to 2 a.m. on Friday, July 31, 2015.  Opponents to the project said they are still awaiting judgement on a lawsuit currently in the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court.

Sunrise at Haleakalā. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Sunrise at Haleakalā. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Meantime, telescope advocates say the DKIST, formerly known as the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, will be the world’s largest ground-based solar telescope and will offer scientists unprecedented high-resolution images of the sun using the latest adaptive optics technology and distortion-free imaging.

The deformable mirror, engineered by AOA Xinetics, was designed with 1,600 actuators, four times the normal actuator density, according to a Northrop Grumman Corporation announcement.  The mirror is instrumental in removing all of the atmospheric blurriness that would otherwise limit the telescope’s performance.

Led by the National Solar Observatory and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, project advocates say the telescope will help scientists better understand how magnetic fields affect the physical properties of the Sun, what roles they play in the solar system and how they affect Earth.

DKIST is funded by the National Science Foundation. The project is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and the National Solar Observatory. DKIST represents a collaboration of 22 institutions from across the solar physics community, including, the High Altitude Observatory, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the University of Hawaii for Astronomy, and the University of Chicago Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. International instrument partners include Germany and the United Kingdom.

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