First public data released from world’s most powerful solar telescope on Maui
The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope at the summit of Haleakalā on Maui has released its first set of publicly available datasets.
The U.S. National Science Foundation’s publication marks a new milestone in the telescope’s first year of its Operations Commissioning Phase, providing direct access of data from the world’s most powerful solar telescope to the scientific community.
The datasets include observations taken in conjunction with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe’s Encounter #12.
The Operations Phase is described as a complex “learning” period in which the telescope and data center is brought online.
“We are delighted to deliver Inouye Solar Telescope data open to the entire community only 10 months after the effective start of observations with the telescope,” said Dr. Thomas Rimmele, the Inouye Solar Telescope Associate Director in a press release announcement.
Users can search through the database using a detailed host of parameters. It can also provide quick look movies and quality information about the datasets.
“The one-of-a-kind capabilities of NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope — and the incredible team behind it — will allow scientists to explore the physical workings of our Sun in ways never before possible,” said Dr. Carrie Black, NSF Program Officer for NSO Operations. “This newly released data is an exciting beginning for that exploration. It holds the promise of new fundamental discoveries that can lead to innovations that help people on Earth by improving our ability to protect satellites, spacecraft, and even our power grid from solar storms.”
The dataset was calibrated at the NSF’s National Solar Observatory headquarters in Boulder, CO, where the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope Data Center manages and maintains the Inouye Solar Telescope data. The Data Center calibrates raw science data to a product suitable for distribution to the proposers, science community, and general public. Once data is calibrated, the proposers maintain exclusive data access for six months, after which it is made public.
Parker Solar Probe’s Encounter #12
Closest approach to the sun in June 2022
The released dataset was taken by the Inouye Solar Telescope in support of Parker Solar Probe’s Encounter #12. Launched in 2018, PSP is a NASA spacecraft sent to collect data from the Sun’s outer atmosphere by completing a series of passes, or encounters, through the solar atmosphere. Its goal is to further our understanding of the solar corona and evolution of solar wind.
In early June 2022, Parker Solar Probe conducted Encounter #12, with the closest approach occurring on June 1, 2022, at 13.3 times the solar radius (RSUN). For several days afterward, PSP transited in front of the solar disk as viewed from Earth, while its distance from the Sun remained at less than ~60 RSUN. As with previous PSP encounters and transits, a worldwide coordination of multiple observing facilities was planned, with a coordinated campaign between June 1-7, 2022.
The scientific role of the Inouye Solar Telescope is to use its unique capabilities to investigate the magnetic environment of the chromospheric “footpoints” of the solar structures experienced by PSP during its close encounter.
Using the Inouye Solar Telescope instruments ViSP and VBI Blue, it will be possible to assess the dynamic and magnetic environment of the solar structures that give rise to the solar wind material sampled by PSP, according to the release.
Users can expect more datasets in the future as the Inouye Solar Telescope progresses through its proposal cycles, and the DC continues to calibrate data throughout Operations.