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Future European Solar Telescope presented to scientists and companies from Portugal

The new European Solar Telescope (EST), which will be installed in the Canary Islands, Spain, will be presented to scientists and companies in Portugal next Thursday, June 25, on the “Portugal EST Day”, in “webinar” format.

The event has been promoted by the University of Coimbra (UC), through the Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (OGAUC), a member of the European Association of Solar Telescopes (EAST, in English), since 2019, and by the Earth and Space Research Center (CITEUC). This initiative, which has the cooperation of Portugal Space – Portuguese Space Agency, aims at making Portugal a full member of the future European Solar Telescope.

The new European Solar Telescope, a 4-meter telescope optimized for studying solar magnetism and the outermost solar layers, such as the photosphere (which to our eyes appears to be its surface) and the chromosphere (which we only see during eclipses), should be operational by 2027.

The objective of “Portugal EST Day”, says astronomer Nuno Peixinho, “is to present the opportunities that this project offers to the scientific and Portuguese industrial companies’.

«Variations in solar magnetic activity induce terrestrial changes that can affect millions of humans in a short space of time. Solar phenomena can be very beautiful when viewed through a solar telescope, fascinating when they look like skeins of magnetic fields, amazing when they create intense northern lights… But also devastating when we depend on a technology that they disturb.

These changes are today the focus of the study of space meteorology, of English space weather, that young scientific area that was born from solar physics», says the researcher at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of
Coimbra (FCTUC).

In a world «increasingly dependent on satellite services, the disturbance of the signals we receive from them has increasingly extensive and global consequences. As thousands of satellites are projected and launched to provide us with precious wireless services, we increasingly need to predict the extreme phenomena that occur in the Sun and what their consequences are: and for that we need a new boost in solar physics and space meteorology», he observes.

Thus, the European Solar Telescope (EST) is the «response of the scientific community to this need to understand and predict solar behavior and its consequences here on Earth, especially the consequences for the technology we develop and use today.

The construction of the EST, in the Canary Islands, will guarantee the access of European Solar Physics to an essential tool for this research that we need», says the coordinator of the Unit for the Promotion of Science at the UC Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory.

“Portugal EST Day”, supported by Portugal Space and UC Business, includes interventions by EST coordinator, Manuel Collados, EST support scientist, Carlos Quinteros, and EST systems engineer, Miguel Núñez, from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries.

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