It’ll be “the world’s biggest eye on the sky.” The European Southern Observatory has awarded a 400-million-euro contract to build the European Extremely Large Telescope - the largest ever in ground-based astronomy.
The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will have a main mirror measuring nearly 40 meters (43 yards) in diameter, making it the largest optical telescope in the world, and will be built on a chosen site on the Cerro Armazones, a 3,000-meter peak in northern Chile
"The E-ELT will produce discoveries that we simply cannot imagine today, and it will inspire people around the world to think about science, technology and our place in the universe," Tim de Zeeuw, European Southern Observatory (ESO) Director General, said at the contract-awarding in the Garching near the southern German city of Munich on Wednesday.
The contract includes building a dome spanning 85 meters in diameter, and 80 meters in height, weighing a whopping 5,000 tons - the ESO compared its footprint to that of a football pitch.
The telescope mounting and tube structure, also part of the construction project, have a moving mass of 3,000 tons. The light-collecting area of the telescope to be built will be bigger than all existing optical research telescopes combined, and its adaptive optics system will produce images 15 times sharper than NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope,
The E-ELT is expected to be completed in 2024, according to the ESO.
The ESO is an intergovernmental astronomy organization supported by 16 countries including Germany, Austria, and Brazil, Netherlands, with the host state Chile.
jd/uhe (European Southern Observatory)