The Earth may just have found a solution for destructive solar storms —- Inouye Solar Telescope.
We all know about the dark side of solar storms. These radiation-filled particles carrying a high magnetic charge known as coronal mass ejections (CME), can impact the Earth in multiple ways. From causing harmless auroral projections to destroying satellites in Earth’s lower orbit, harming electronic devices on Earth, disrupting GPS, mobile network and internet services to even collapsing the power grid, the dangers of solar storms are very high. But probably the most terrifying thing about solar storms is the unpredictable nature of it. No matter what, we can only know about them one to two days ahead of time, which is not if we want to prepare and plan to protect ourselves from it. With the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, this might be a thing of the past. In fact, it may well be the solar storm-killer humanity always wanted.
The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope is the world’s most powerful solar telescope, built and operated by the National Solar Observatory (NSO) which is in part funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Sethuraman Panchanathan, NSF Director said in a press release, “NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope is the world’s most powerful solar telescope that will forever change the way we explore and understand our sun. Its insights will transform how our nation, and the planet, predict and prepare for events like solar storms”.
The world’s most powerful solar telescope might protect the Earth from solar storms
The Inouye Solar Telescope’s 75 mm thick f/2 primary mirror is 4.24 meters in diameter with the outer 12 cm masked, leaving a 4-meter off-axis section of a 12-meter diameter, f/0.67 concave parabola. This masked outer structure is key to the telescope absorbing more light without it distorting the image it produces. To assist in this, there is also a 0.65-meter secondary mirror and a concave ellipsoid with a focal length of 1 meter. These were made from silicon carbide and are mounted on a hexapod to compensate for thermal expansion and bending of the telescope structure keeping the mirror in its optimal position.
The solar telescope will be watching the Sun in a way that has never happened before and we might be able to see the intricate reactions that give birth to sunspots and cause them to explode and send CME to the Earth to cause solar storms. If this happens, we will be able to not only predict solar storms but also prepare for its adversities.