KIS signs as a co-founder of the European Solar Telescope Foundation

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Leibniz-Institut für Sonnenphysik (KIS) is among 9 institutions from 7 European countries that signed the deed of the Canarian Foundation for the European Solar Telescope (EST).

The signing took place on July 25, 2023, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where KIS was represented by its executive director Prof. Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina. The EST Foundation grants legal character to the project consortium and paves the path for the future EST construction.

The founding institutions that will lead the project to the next phase of development are from the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Germany contributes to the EST Foundation through KIS in Freiburg and MPS in Göttingen, which have been engaged in the project since its initiation in 2008.

KIS has significantly contributed to the EST project, including the leadership of the EST Board of Directors (Chair Prof. Svetlana Berdyugina), EST Science Advisory Group (Chair Dr. Rolf Schlichenmaier) and EST Data Centre (led by KIS Science Data Centre Board). KIS scientists have broadly contributed to the EST scientific requirements, technical specifications and concept developments, including the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics system (MCAO) and the Data Centre. On behalf of its German partners, KIS operates the current Europe’s largest solar telescope GREGOR (1.5m) at the Observatorio del Teide on Tenerife (Spain) which serves the national and international solar physics communities and also offers a unique testbed for novel technological developments for large solar telescopes such as EST, including MCAO, high-precision optics and spectropolarimetry, remote observing, long-distance multi-tiered big data management, etc.

The preliminary design phase of the telescope, which was funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, has recently been completed. Now, the establishment of the EST Foundation marks a crucial milestone in advancing the project towards the construction phase. One of the primary objectives of the foundation is to create a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), which will bring together the national ministries of the partner countries. The EST ERIC will be the legal entity responsible for overseeing all aspects of the construction and operation of this large research infrastructure.

KIS is taking a significant step forward by joining the EST Foundation. This action gives the participating institutions a decision-making power over all future scientific, technological and industrial aspects of the project. On the EST Foundation Board of Trustees, KIS will be represented by Dr. Jozef Bruls.

An unprecedented technological challenge

The European Solar Telescope is set to become the largest solar telescope ever built in Europe. With its 4.2-meter primary mirror, state-of-the-art technology, and specialised instrumentation suite, EST will provide astronomers with an unrivalled tool for observing the Sun. This solar telescope will be constructed in the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, located on the island of La Palma (Spain) and renowned worldwide as a top-tier site for astronomical observations.

EST was included on the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap in 2016 and is therefore considered a strategic research infrastructure for Europe. Also, the most recent Astronet Infrastructure Roadmap 2022-2035 recognizes EST as one of the three top priorities among mid-sized ground-based astronomical infrastructures, with first light expected by 2030.

One of its primary objectives is to improve our understanding of the Sun by observing its magnetic fields in unprecedented detail. EST will be able to uncover signals currently hidden in the noise and reveal the existence of unknown, tiny magnetic structures. By studying the magnetic and dynamic coupling of the solar atmosphere, EST will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These phenomena determine the so-called space weather, which has a strong influence on our technological society.

The optical configuration and instrumentation of EST have been meticulously designed to capture the interactions between the different atmospheric layers of the Sun. Additionally, a comprehensive set of instruments will be installed to enable simultaneous observations across multiple wavelengths with high polarimetric precision and accuracy. This unique capability will give EST a higher efficiency compared to existing or future telescopes, whether ground-based or space-borne. The largest solar telescope in Europe is a technological challenge that, once built, will keep Europe at the forefront of solar physics research and instrument development.

More information about the project: 


Founding members of the EST Foundation

Astronomický Ústav AV ČR, V. V. I. (Czech Republic)

Leibniz-Institut für Sonnenphysik KIS (Germany)

Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung (Germany)

Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (Slovakia)

Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain)

Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Spain)

Università della Svizzera italiana (Switzerland)

Stockholms Universitet (Sweden)

University of Sheffield (UK), representing the United Kingdom Universities Consortium (Aberystwyth, Durham, Exeter, Glasgow, Sheffield and Queen's University Belfast)



Prof. Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina, KIS Executive Director,

Dr. Jozef Bruls, KIS Scientific Director,


European Solar Telescope impression. Credit: IDOM.
© Credit: IDOM
Representatives of the European institutions after signing the EST deed. Left to right: M. Nogales (CSIC), A. Martín (IAC), J. Leenaarts (Stockholm University), M. Collados (IAC), R. Rebolo (IAC), J. J. Soto (Notary), S. Berdyugina (KIS & USI-IRSOL), A. Sosa (IAC), S. González (KIS), P. Gömöry (AISAS), P. Bourdin (Graz University). Credit: IAC.
Prof. Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina signs the EST Foundation deed. Credit: IAC.