ESO approves European Extremely Large Telescope


June 13, 2012

Upon completion, the E-ELT is expected to be the largest optical telescope in the world

Upon completion, the E-ELT is expected to be the largest optical telescope in the world

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The European Southern Observatory (ESO) council met on Monday in Garching, Germany and approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) program, pending the confirmation of ad referendum votes from the authorities of four member states before the next council meeting. Assuming all goes according to plan, the E-ELT is expected to begin operation early in the next decade.

The long-anticipated decision was announced as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the ESO, which is supported by fifteen countries - Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

The ESO is responsible for the construction of several important telescopes located at favorable locations in the southern hemisphere and currently employs approximately 700 staff, while receiving annual contributions from its member states in excess of €140 million (approximately US$175.5 million).

Upon completion, the E-ELT will be the world’s largest optical/infrared telescope and will help contribute toward the advancement of astrophysical knowledge. The E-ELT promises to facilitate detailed studies of super-massive black holes and the little-understood dark matter and dark energy which make up much of the universe. Further to this, the E-ELT will also be assigned the task of searching the habitable zones of stars for possible Earth-like planets which could potentially harbor life.

“This is an excellent outcome and a great day for ESO. We can now move forward on schedule with this giant project,” said the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw.

The E-ELT site in northern Chile

All this innovation comes with a significant price tag attached however, as the E-ELT is expected to cost a staggering €1.083 billion (approximately US$1.3 billion). The construction of the E-ELT will also pose a logistical challenge to rival its scientific promise and design work is said to be ongoing for both the leveling of the E-ELT's site, situated atop the Cerro Armazones mountain in northern Chile, and construction of a suitable road to provide access to the telescope.

Source: ESO

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Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

What is the diameter of this telescope? This is the most important parameter when talking about a telescope.



Would it be too much to ask for you to specify how big the telescope will be since you've already said it would probably be the worlds largest?

I hate reading an article and then having to research information that should have been present in the first place.

Dan K
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