Construction starts on world’s largest telescope
Construction began in Chile on Friday that Europe’s extremely large large telescope, which will complete the world’s largest optical telescope, five times larger than the best observation instruments used today.
The size of the ELT has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe, say its supporters, with its main mirror measuring about 39 meters (43 yards). Located on a 3,000-meter-high mountain in the middle of the Atacama Desert, it must begin operations in 2024.
Among other capabilities, it will add and refine the growing discoveries of planets orbiting other stars, with the ability to find smaller planets, larger images and possibly characterize their atmospheres, a key step in understanding if life is present . “What we feel here is more than a telescope. Here we see one of the greatest examples of the possibilities of science,” said Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in a speech at the beginning of construction on the site.
The dry air of the Atacama offers near optimal viewing conditions, it is possible to find on Earth, with about 70 percent of the expected global astronomical infrastructure found in the region by 2020. The ELT is funded by the European Center Of Monitoring for the South, an organization of countries of Europe and the southern hemisphere. Construction costs were not available, but ESO previously said that the ELT would cost around 1 billion euros ($ 1.12 billion) at 2012 prices.