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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


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 (US)
Article number172
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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


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