At a recent conference the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has approved the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The large telescope will be built in the Chilean Atacama Desert on top of the Cerro Armazones and its development will be completed in 2 steps.
For the first step of the construction a budget of almost 1 billion euros has been approved. Following a contractual agreement in 2012, the green light for the construction of the large telescope has been given only after 90 percent of the full funding needed for the development of the telescope has been gathered. From this moment, a sum of 1.083 billion euros has been raised. This was made possible when Poland joined the European Southern Observatory in 2014. The first step of construction will require nearly 90 percent of the full funding.
The European Southern Observatory director general Tim de Zeeuw claims that the first step in the development will make E-ELT good to go. A road leading up the mountain in Chile has already been put into construction and the site is currently being cleaned up. The surface that collects light of the European Extremely Large Telescope will have a size of 39 meters (128 feet). There is currently no funding plan revealed for the second step of construction yet.
The E-ELT is planned to become functional in 2014 and will be extremely important in tasks involving the identification of mass from exoplanets the size of our planet or analyzing the population of stars from galaxies and investigating distant parts of the Universe.
The European Southern Observatory already has an extremely effective Very Large Telescope (VLT) just around 20 km from the site where the European Extremely Large Telescope will be built, on Cerro Paranal. Once the first step in building the E-ELT will be completed, scientists are going to be able to put it to use. Adding an optics system capable of reducing the effect of blur from the Earth’s atmosphere and adding some elements to the main mirror will be most of what the second step in building it will consist of.