Construction Begins on European Space Organization's Extremely Large Telescope

May 31, 2017

Construction has started on the world's largest optical infrared telescope, featuring a 39-meter diameter primary mirror. Expectations are the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be able to image space objects from galaxies far, far away that are currently not visible to scientists.

The initial stone laying ceremony marking the beginning of construction and the facility's connection to the Chilean electrical grid was attended by the President of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, who said, "With the symbolic start of this construction work, we are building more than a telescope here: it is one of the greatest expressions of scientific and technological capabilities and of the extraordinary potential of international cooperation."

Construction is being handled by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on the 9,993 foot high summit of Cerro Armazones in Chile. The ELT's dome and main building is targeted for a 2024 completion, at which time basic operations will begin. Later, a second construction phase will be completed to increase the ELT's data-gathering capacity.

For more on how the ELT works, visit the European Space Organization's site here: