Chile Building World’s Largest Optical Telescope

Construction is underway in Chile on what will be the world’s largest optical / near-infrared telescope. The telescope’s primary mirror will stretch 39 meters. The foundation for the ELT telescope, Extremely Large Telescope, is currently being laid in the Atacama Desert.

The foundation, which is 9,993 feet high in the Cerro Armazones, will use the 39-meter mirror to gather light to properly operate the telescope. The project is from the European Southern Observatory and its main mirror will stretch some 39.3 meters from end to end.

Hexagonal mirrors will be incorporated into the design, each 4.2 meters in length, with the final meter comprised of 798 segments. The mirrors were all cast earlier in the year, with workers now laying the foundation of the telescope.

Slated to be the best telescope for optical and near-infrared viewing, the ELT will take until 2024 to be fully constructed. Workers from the Ace Consortium are working on the project, which will have an 80-meter tall dome that will house the observatory.

The dome will cover the entire site of the project, with drone photography showing the visible circular imprint where the dome will sit. A 55-meter circular pit is also present in recent photographs and will support the telescope’s primary mirror.

The European Southern Observatory also runs the world’s Very Large Telescope. The telescope sits at a site just 30 minutes from the ELT construction. The VLT is comprised of four telescopes that are all working together.

The two telescope sites will be visible from one another.

The site of the ELT is strategic and will allow for support and maintenance facilities to assist with any ELT needs that present. The location, 9,993 feet in the desert, is also strategic thanks to the thin, dry air. Atmospheric refraction is reduced thanks to the dry climate, making it the world’s best location for astronomers to view the cosmos.

Astronomers and scientists hope the telescope will shed light on some of the world’s greatest mysteries. The telescope, when fully operational, will allow astronomers to study the universe’s earliest ages. Ancient galaxies will also be able to be explored, allowing for an entirely new view of the cosmos.

The telescope isn’t the only new telescope under construction that is expected to change humanity’s view and understanding of the universe. The James Webb Telescope is being constructed. The telescope is more powerful than NASA’s Hubble telescope.

Webb will also have the ability to detect infrared light.

Scientists working on the telescope claim that the telescope’s power will be able to locate a bumble bee even if it were a moon’s length away.

The telescope will be four times farther than the moon in relation to the earth and will cost $8 billion to construct. Delays have resulted in NASA asking for the telescope’s budget being increased slightly.

James Webb Space Telescope will be in operation in 2020 and will launch into space from the European Space Agency’s spaceport in South America. The Hubble Telescope has been in operation since 1990 when it was first launched into space.

Melissa Thompson

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.