A 2-m class, state-of-the-art solar telescope (NLST) has been proposed, which will permit Indian scientists to carry out cutting edge research aimed at understanding the fundamental processes taking place on the Sun. Its innovative design and backend instruments will enable observations with an unprecedented high spatial resolution that will provide crucial information on the nature of magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere.
NLST will be the largest solar telescope in the world for several years i.e. at least till the next generation of 4-m class telescopes come into operation, provided they are realized as planned. NLST will be one of the few telescopes in the world with a capability to do both day and night time astronomy. Moreover, this telescope fills the longitude gap between Japan and Europe. NLST will be a multipurpose telescope, which will be equipped with state of the art post-focus instruments.
NLST would be a unique research tool for the country; it will attract several talented solar astronomers to the country and provide a superior platform for performing high quality solar research. This would demand great technological challenges, give several spin-offs both direct and indirect to the country. It would also represent a continuation and extension of the tradition of solar studies established at Kodaikanal more than a century ago.
Critical to the successful implementation of NLST is the selection of a site with optimal atmospheric properties, such as good number of sunshine hours with good "astronomical seeing". Following a preliminary selection process, site characterization is being conducted at Hanle and Merak in Ladakh and Devasthal in Uttarakhand. The data obtained so far suggest that the Pangong lake site at Merak has excellent "seeing" conditions which are wellsuited for a 2-m class solar telescope.