Chile: A telescope to stomp on all others

Chile telescope

The construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope began in Chile and it’s set to be the world's largest optical telescope. The new Chilean device will be five times larger than the top observing instruments in use today.

Fans of the new telescope state that the size of the ELT has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe. It will possess a main mirror that will measure around 39 meters (43 yards). The European Extremely Large Telescope will be located on a 3,000-meter-high mountain in the middle of the Atacama Desert in the year 2024.

Among other capabilities, it will add to and refine astronomers' burgeoning discoveries of planets orbiting other stars, with the ability to find even smaller planets, capture the image of larger ones, and possibly characterize their atmospheres which is a vital key step in understanding the universe.

"What is being raised 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 marking the beginning of construction at the site.

The dry atmosphere of the Atacama provides the perfect conditions. It will also combine 70 percent of the world's astronomical infrastructure thanks to various organizations from Europe and other southern hemisphere nations.

LatinAmerican post | Manuela Pulido
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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