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Exclusive News Sci-Tech

India to build world’s largest solar telescope in Ladakh

New Delhi, Jan 5 (): India is setting up to build, what it claims, the world’s largest solar telescope in Ladakh region on the foothills of the Himalayas in occupied Kashmir that aims to study the sun’s microscopic structure.

Madhav Lal, the Chief Secretary of the occupied territory, told at a meeting in Jammu that the telescope ‘National Large Solar Telescope (NLST)’ will be built in the high altitude Pangong Tso Lake Merak of Ladakh region by the Indian Department of Science and Technology.

The location selected for setting up of the powerful telescope, fitted with a 2 m reflector made by the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), would allow scientists to carry out the cutting-edge research to find out the fundamental process taking place on the surface of the sun and derive specific observations that are speculative in nature.

Siraj Hasan, IIA former director said a detailed report about the project has been given to the union government and the construction of telescope will begin by the end of this year. The project is likely to be completed by 2017.

This unique project involves scientific organisations such as Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational-Sciences, the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Inter-University Centre and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. The IIA will be the nodal agency.

The largest telescope so far is the 10-metre optical telescope at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, this new telescope of India will be the largest among solar telescopes.

At present, the world’s largest solar telescope with a diameter of 1.6 metres is the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, in Kitt Peak National Observatory at Arizona in the US.

Three sites, Hanle and Leh in the Ladakh region and Devasthal near Nainital, Uttarakhand were recommended to set up the telescope. But, Merak village near Pangong Lake has been identified as the suitable site. As the proposed telescope will be used to observe the sun during the day, the location should have clean visible conditions and long hours of clear sunshine.