High-resolution studies of the Sun's magnetic fields are needed for a better understanding of solar magnetic fields and the fundamental processes responsible for solar variability. The generation of magnetic fields through dynamo processes, the amplification of fields through the interaction with plasma flows, and the destruction of fields are still poorly understood. There is still incomplete insight as to what physical mechanisms are responsible for heating the corona, what causes variations in the radiative output of the Sun, and what mechanisms trigger flares and coronal mass ejections. Progress in answering these critical questions requires study of the interaction of the magnetic field and convection with a resolution sufficient to observe scales fundamental to these processes.
The 4m aperture Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) will be a unique scientific tool, with excellent angular resolution, a large wavelength range, and low scattered light. With its integrated adaptive optics, the ATST will achieve a spatial resolution nearly 10 times better than any existing solar telescope. Building a large aperture telescope for viewing the sun presents many challenges, some of the more difficult being
Heat control and rejection
Contamination and scattered light control
Control of telescope and instrument polarization
This talk will present a short summary of the scientific questions driving the ATST design, the design challenges faced by the ATST, and the current status of the developing design and siting considerations