April 26, 2010

Chile Will Be Home To World’s Largest Telescope

The European Southern Observatory said on Monday that the world's largest telescope will be built in Chile's northern desert for over $1 billion and will set its sights on discovering other worlds like our own.

The European Extremely Large Telescope will examine the skies for exoplanets, as well as try and unravel the mystery of dark matter and dark energy.

The 137-foot telescope will be built 10,040 feet above sea level on a mountain in Chile's northern, mine rich Atacama desert.  This area is favored because of the low levels of water vapor and clear night skies.

"The size will allow us to see basically Earth-like planets," Lars Lindberg Christensen, head of the observatory's education and public outreach department in Garching, Germany, told Reuters.

"It will be able to test fundamental physics to a degree never before possible," he added. "We are going to study black holes, galaxies and dark matter and dark energy, which are the two completely unknown composites or parts of the universe."

The telescope is set to start searching the night skies in 2018.


Image Caption: This night-time panorama shows Cerro Armazones in the Chilean desert, near ESO's Paranal Observatory, site of the Very Large Telescope (VLT). Cerro Armazones was chosen as the site for the planned European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Credit: ESO/S. Brunier


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