Construction begins on world's largest telescope in Chilean desert

As confirmed by the director General of ESO, the Dutch astronomer Tim de Zeeuw, "ELT's primary mirror will be five times bigger and will collect 13 times higher amount of light than most of the now operated telescopes".

When fully constructed, the Extra Large Telescope (ELT) conceived by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), a consortium that includes Brazil, Germany, France and Britain, will also have four smaller lens.

"Antofagasta has the potential to be one of the scientific centres of Latin America.Chile is a country known for its sizable scientific community and for the importance of its discoveries", the President said.

Construction has finally begun on the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), with the first stone laid in a ceremony last week.

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"ESO is another example of what can be achieved through global cooperation", Bachelet said.

The European Extremely Large Telescope is truly shaping up to be an impressive beast even as construction is just beginning.

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"For me, the ELT represents a big leap forward in capability, and that means that we will use it to find many interesting things about the Universe that we have no knowledge of today". The E-ELT will be able to correct for the atmospheric distortions both adaptive and diffraction-limited images from the start, providing images 16 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Thatte also said that the ELT is going to be used to gather data about the solar system that remains inaccessible today. The ELT is expected to be ready for 2024.

The structure itself will weigh some 5,000 tonnes, with a moving mass of 3,000 tonnes in a rotating dome 85 m (279 ft) wide. The cover of the time capsule is engraved with a hexagon made of Zerodur©, a one-fifth scale model of one of the ELT's primary mirror segments.

The ELT will produce discoveries that we simply can not imagine today, and it will surely inspire numerous people around the world to think about science, technology and our place in the Universe. This company consists of Cimolai, Astaldi, and the EIE Group.

The dry atmosphere and mostly cloudless sky of the Cerro Armazones mountain make it a privileged zone for optical astronomy, thus attracting a lot of the world's astronomical infrastructure to be located in the region. It's not sure how much it would cost for construction to be completed over the seven years between now and its launch date, but Reuters (via Business Insider) quoted an ESO representative, who said that the E-ELT may cost about a billion euros ($1.12 billion USD) for the project to be completed.

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