Telescope Weighing 3400t Set To Worlds Largest

Story By: Jonathan Macias, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

These images show the foundations for the world’s biggest telescope as construction begins in a desert plateau in South America.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) released the photos for the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), a 40m-class telescope that will allow us to address many of the Universe’s unsolved questions.

Pictures Credit: CEN/European Southern Observatory

The impressive snaps were taken in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

According to the ESO, once it is completed it will be the largest operating ground telescope in the world and will weigh 3,400 tonnes.

Pictures Credit: CEN/European Southern Observatory

ESO also said the huge optical instrument is a fully adjustable reflective telescope. The design includes a segmented primary mirror measuring 39.3 metres (129 feet) in diameter, a secondary mirror, 4.2 metres (14 feet) in diameter, and a tertiary mirror (3.75 metres in diameter (12 feet). Its completion is scheduled for 2024.

The telescope will also feature innovative adaptive optics technology that will help correct distortions in the Earth’s atmosphere, making images sharper than those taken from space.

Pictures Credit: CEN/European Southern Observatory

The enclosure itself will have a classic dome shape and will defend the telescope against the elements. The dome is expected to be almost 74 metres (236 feet) high and will cover 86 metres (282 feet) in diameter, making it the largest dome ever built for a telescope.

Before work started on the ELT in the Atacama Desert, scientists considered other locations in Spain, Morocco and Argentina.

The Chilean desert was selected for its clear night skies and low rainfall per year.

The ELT is situated just 23 kilometres (14.3 miles) from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) meaning a lot of materials and infrastructure were already in place.

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