The Large Earth-based Solar Telescope (LEST) will be a powerful, next-generation telescope with unprecedented angular resolution, capable of highly accurate polarimetry of the Sun, covering the optical spectral range from about 300 nm into the near infrared to about 2.5 μm.
The telescope is a 2.4-m aperture, “polarization-free” concept based on a modified Gregorian optical system. A fast polarization modulator will be located close to the secondary focus of the system. An actively controlled NTT-type main mirror, a high precision pointing and tracking system, a helium-filled light path and a thin entrance window, together with an integrated adaptive optics system, will give the telescope near diffraction-limited performance in the visible. LEST will be sited on La Palma, in the Canary Islands, near the caldera rim on the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, which often offers excellent seeing. A frequently occurring seeing parameter of ro
= 15–20 cm in the visible will correspond to ro
≥ 1 m in the near IR.
The construction of LEST will begin in 1993, and the telescope is to be ready for “first light” in 1997. The telescope facility will accommodate a large number of focal plane instruments on a spacious instrument table. LEST will be made available for near-IR instrumentation from the start of its regular operation.