The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope – Observatory Overview

Thomas R. Rimmele*, Mark Warner, Stephen L. Keil, Philip R. Goode, Michael Knölker, Jeffrey R. Kuhn, Robert R. Rosner, Joseph P. McMullin, Roberto Casini, Haosheng Lin, Friedrich Wöger, Oskar von der Lühe, Alexandra Tritschler, Alisdair Davey, Alfred de Wijn, David F. Elmore, André Fehlmann, David M. Harrington, Sarah A. Jaeggli, Mark P. RastThomas A. Schad, Wolfgang Schmidt, Mihalis Mathioudakis, Donald L. Mickey, Tetsu Anan, Christian Beck, Heather K. Marshall, Paul F. Jeffers, Jacobus M. Oschmann, Andrew Beard, David C. Berst, Bruce A. Cowan, Simon C. Craig, Eric Cross, Bryan K. Cummings, Colleen Donnelly, Jean Benoit de Vanssay, Arthur D. Eigenbrot, Andrew Ferayorni, Christopher Foster, Chriselle Ann Galapon, Christopher Gedrites, Kerry Gonzales, Bret D. Goodrich, Brian S. Gregory, Stephanie S. Guzman, Stephen Guzzo, Steve Hegwer, Robert P. Hubbard, John R. Hubbard, Erik M. Johansson, Luke C. Johnson, Chen Liang, Mary Liang, Isaac McQuillen, Christopher Mayer, Karl Newman, Brialyn Onodera, Le Ellen Phelps, Myles M. Puentes, Christopher Richards, Lukas M. Rimmele, Predrag Sekulic, Stephan R. Shimko, Brett E. Simison, Brett Smith, Erik Starman, Stacey R. Sueoka, Richard T. Summers, Aimee Szabo, Louis Szabo, Stephen B. Wampler, Timothy R. Williams, Charles White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


We present an overview of the National Science Foundation’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), its instruments, and support facilities. The 4 m aperture DKIST provides the highest-resolution observations of the Sun ever achieved. The large aperture of DKIST combined with state-of-the-art instrumentation provide the sensitivity to measure the vector magnetic field in the chromosphere and in the faint corona, i.e. for the first time with DKIST we will be able to measure and study the most important free-energy source in the outer solar atmosphere – the coronal magnetic field. Over its operational lifetime DKIST will advance our knowledge of fundamental astronomical processes, including highly dynamic solar eruptions that are at the source of space-weather events that impact our technological society. Design and construction of DKIST took over two decades. DKIST implements a fast (f/2), off-axis Gregorian optical design. The maximum available field-of-view is 5 arcmin. A complex thermal-control system was implemented in order to remove at prime focus the majority of the 13 kW collected by the primary mirror and to keep optical surfaces and structures at ambient temperature, thus avoiding self-induced local seeing. A high-order adaptive-optics system with 1600 actuators corrects atmospheric seeing enabling diffraction limited imaging and spectroscopy. Five instruments, four of which are polarimeters, provide powerful diagnostic capability over a broad wavelength range covering the visible, near-infrared, and mid-infrared spectrum. New polarization-calibration strategies were developed to achieve the stringent polarization accuracy requirement of 5×10−4. Instruments can be combined and operated simultaneously in order to obtain a maximum of observational information. Observing time on DKIST is allocated through an open, merit-based proposal process. DKIST will be operated primarily in “service mode” and is expected to on average produce 3 PB of raw data per year. A newly developed data center located at the NSO Headquarters in Boulder will initially serve fully calibrated data to the international users community. Higher-level data products, such as physical parameters obtained from inversions of spectro-polarimetric data will be added as resources allow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number172
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 04 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported herein is based in part on data collected with the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), a facility of the National Solar Observatory (NSO). NSO is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., and is funded by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. DKIST is located on land of spiritual and cultural significance to Native Hawai’ian people. The use of this important site to further scientific knowledge is done so with appreciation and respect.

Funding Information:
Open Access funding provided by NSO. The National Solar Observatory (NSO) is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Chromosphere
  • Corona
  • Instrumentation
  • Magnetic fields
  • Photosphere
  • Sun
  • Telescopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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