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Major step forward for the world's largest optical/infrared telescope

Date:
June 20, 2014
Source:
European Southern Observatory - ESO
Summary:
The next major milestone towards ESO’s European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) has been completed. Part of the 3000-meter peak of Cerro Armazones was blasted away as a step towards leveling the summit in preparation for the construction of the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world.

Today a groundbreaking ceremony took place to mark the next major milestone towards ESO’s European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Part of the 3000-metre peak of Cerro Armazones was blasted away as a step towards levelling the summit in preparation for the construction of the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world.
Credit: Image courtesy of European Southern Observatory - ESO

Today a groundbreaking ceremony took place to mark the next major milestone towards ESO's European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Part of the 3000-metre peak of Cerro Armazones was blasted away as a step towards levelling the summit in preparation for the construction of the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world.

The groundbreaking ceremony at Paranal Observatory, 20 kilometres away from the blasting, was attended by distinguished guests from both Chile and the ESO Member States, as well as representatives of the local communities, senior officials from the project and ESO staff. The event was also streamed live online and a recording of the event can now be viewed.

The order to proceed with the blasting was given by the Chilean Vice Minister of National Assets, Jorge Maldonado.

During the groundbreaking ceremony the Chilean company ICAFAL Ingenieria y Construccion S.A. blasted part of the top of Cerro Armazones and loosened about 5000 cubic metres of rock. This is just one part of an elaborate levelling process which will help landscape the mountain, so that it can accommodate the 39-metre telescope and its huge dome. A grand total of 220 000 cubic metres will need to be removed to make room for the 150 metre by 300 metre E-ELT platform.

The Cerro Armazones civil works started in March 2014 and are expected to take 16 months. These include the laying and maintenance of a paved road, the construction of the summit platform and the construction of a service trench to the summit [1].

The E-ELT first light is planned for 2024, when it will begin to tackle the biggest astronomical challenges of our time. The giant telescope is expected to allow the exploration of completely unknown realms of the Universe -- it will be: "the world's biggest eye on the sky."

Notes

[1] All of the structures that will later be erected at the site are specified in the E-ELT Construction Proposal, a 264-page comprehensive book with details of all aspects of the project, along with an executive summary. In June 2011, ESO Council endorsed the revised baseline design for the telescope and in December 2012 they fully approved the E-ELT Programme.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Southern Observatory - ESO. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Southern Observatory - ESO. "Major step forward for the world's largest optical/infrared telescope." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620102306.htm>.
European Southern Observatory - ESO. (2014, June 20). Major step forward for the world's largest optical/infrared telescope. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620102306.htm
European Southern Observatory - ESO. "Major step forward for the world's largest optical/infrared telescope." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620102306.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

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