- Title: Bachelet inaugurates construction on world's largest telescope in Chilean desert
- Date: 26th May 2017
- Summary: CERRO ARMAZONES, ATACAMA, CHILE (MAY 26, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AREA WHERE EXTREMELY LARGE EUROPEAN TELESCOPE (ELT) IS CURRENTLY BEING BUILT VARIOUS OF FIRST METEOROLOGICAL MEASUREMENT INSTALLATIONS AND SOLAR PANELS IN CERRO ARMAZONES GENERAL VIEW OF CEREMONY TO MARK BEGINNING OF CONSTRUCTION (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF THE EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY (ESO), TIM DE ZEEUW, SAYING: "It is in fact possible that the ELT (Extremely Large European Telescope) will find evidence for life on other worlds and it is quite ironic and also beautiful that this would be done from the magnificent desolation of the Atacama Desert."
- Embargoed: 9th June 2017 21:20
- Keywords: European Southern Observatory super telescope European Extremely Large telescope
- Location: CERRO ARMAZONES, ATACAMA AND PARANAL, CHILE
- City: CERRO ARMAZONES, ATACAMA AND PARANAL, CHILE
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Science,Space Exploration
- Reuters ID: LVA0016IH7HAF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Construction began in Chile on Friday (May 26) on the European Extremely Large Telescope, which when completed will be the world's largest optical telescope, some five times larger than the top observing instruments in use today.
The size of the ELT has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe, say its backers, with its main mirror that will measure some 39 meters (43 yards) across.
The head of the European Southern Observatory, Tim de Zeeuw, and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet were on hand for the ceremony to inaugurate construction.
Located on a 3,000 meter-high mountain in the middle of the Atacama desert, it is due to begin operating in 2024.
Among other capabilities, it will add to and refine astronomers' burgeoning discoveries of planets orbiting other stars, with the ability to find more smaller planets, image larger ones, and possibly characterize their atmospheres, a key step in understanding if life is present.
The dry atmosphere of the Atacama provides as near perfect observing conditions as it is possible to find on Earth, with some 70 percent of the world's astronomical infrastructure slated to be located in the region by the 2020s.
The ELT is being funded by the European Southern Observatory, an organization consisting of European and southern hemisphere nations. Construction costs were not available but the ESO has said previously that the ELT would cost around 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) at 2012 prices.
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