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Space Science

Construction of World's Largest Telescope Finally Underway in Chile 76

Posted by timothy
from the it's-chilly-at-night-and-chile-all-day dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with this update about a long-awaited project, the European Extremely Large Telescope: The partial demolition of Cerro Armazones, a mountain in northern Chile's Antofagasta region, marked the start of constructing the world's largest and most powerful telescope, an instrument capable of capturing 14 times more light than existing telescopes. At 2:00 p.m. Thursday, the blasting of Cerro Armazones, 3,060 meters (11,800 feet) high, removed from the peak between 25 and 30 meters (80 and 100 feet) of its height in order to create a plain some 200 meters (655 feet) long, on which to mount the European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT, a project of the European Southern Observatory. On this site will be built a structure 60 meters (200 feet) high and 80 meters (260 feet) in diameter, with mirrors of 39.3 meters (129 feet) which in 10 years will begin to explore the origins of the universe. The telescope will shed light on the 'dark ages' of the universe, when the Milky Way was only 500,000 years old, and thanks to its enormous size it could also contribute to finding extraterrestrial life by detecting whether exoplanets have oxygen in their atmospheres.
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Construction of World's Largest Telescope Finally Underway in Chile

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  • by The Evil Atheist (2484676) on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:08PM (#47286599) Homepage
    First, clear the mountain with a Big Fucking Explosion. Then assemble the Huge Ass Mirrors.
  • Early 2020s? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NixieBunny (859050) on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:42PM (#47286703) Homepage
    Based on how long most of these big telescope projects end up taking, I'd expect late 2020s for it to become usable. We'll see.
    • Good guess, it matches the summary quite well - "in 10 years will begin to explore the origins of the universe". ;)
    • by GNious (953874)

      First Light slated for 2022, regular operation later.

      Expect a grand First Light party, not dissimilar to First Frost parties (gifts optional)

  • question: " ...capturing 14 times more light than existing telescope" on Earth, or including in orbit?

    • Considering how it should be trivial to make a telescope that's by some magnitude bigger and more powerful than anything we could possibly send into orbit, I somehow fail to understand the question?

  • As cool as it is to see this finally start construction, this won't be the worlds largest telescope when completed, it will be the largest one designed to work at optical/near-infrared wavelengths. The worlds largest single dish telescope is still the Green Bank Telescope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bank_Telescope), which at 100m is ~6x the size. But it's a radio telescope, and it's a lot easier to build large radio telescopes than large optical ones because the surface doesn't need to be as preci

    • The worlds largest fully steerable single dish telescope is still the Green Bank Telescope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bank_Telescope), which at 100m is ~6x the size

      FTFY

    • by TechnoGrl (322690)
      Annnnndddd wrong . Without regard to the annoying pedantry involved in conflating a radio telescope with an optical telescope, of which this article is obviously about, it is in fact the Arecibo radio-telescope which is the largest radio telescope, neither of which has jack to do with this article.
    • The worlds largest single dish telescope is still the Green Bank Telescope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bank_Telescope), which at 100m is ~6x the size.

      World's largest fully-steerable single-dish telescope - the Arecibo Observatory [wikipedia.org] is larger still at a diameter of 300m! (Impressive Arecibo exploration video here [youtube.com]. The thing's sodding enormous.)

      I went looking for the largest diameter multi-dish radio telescope. It looks like the biggest terrestrial 'telescope' is the Global VLBI system created by combin

      • World's largest fully-steerable single-dish telescope - the Arecibo Observatory [wikipedia.org] is larger still at a diameter of 300m! (Impressive Arecibo exploration video here [youtube.com].

        I guess "fully steerable" means "within ~20 of zenith" to you. But that's not what the rest of the world considers "fully steerable".

        • I guess "fully steerable" means "within ~20 of zenith" to you. But that's not what the rest of the world considers "fully steerable".

          Oops. That was in reference to his Green Bank Telescope link - Arecibo being only partially steerable...

  • > The telescope will shed light on the 'dark ages' of the universe,

    No, actually the telescope will *collect* light from the dark ages of the universe. If it shed light it would be the world's biggest fucking flashlight.

    If you want to be pedantic, it *will* shed light, from several lasers mounted on the sides of the telescope structure. Those create artificial stars in the upper atmosphere so that atmospheric distortion can be cancelled by the adaptive optics. But those are attachments, not the main te

  • ... are the best in the world for star-gazing. Chile Chill [eso.org] video showing the Chilean night sky....
  • The Very Large Telescope (linked in TFS) has been in service for some years... the telescope under construction is the European Extremely Large Telescope [eso.org].

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] There, what good is the news of people blasting a mountain top off without video of the actual deed?
  • by PPH (736903)

    close to 20 kilometers (12 miles) upwind from Cerro Paranal, the mountain where the predecessor of the E-ELT is in operation.

    FTFY.

  • Or rather, we don't want them to find us. Because they most probably are milions of years ahead of us and they'll see us as animals, not as intelligent life.

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