Construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope has officially begun in the Atacama desert in Chile, marking the first step in a true mega-project that could offer us answers to some of the most profound questions in science.
The event this week, the blasting of the top of Cerro Armazones — 3,000 metres high until Thursday, a few less now — was far less dramatic than many of the onlookers at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal facility 25 kilometres away had hoped for, but it was a significant first step in taking the E-ELT from the drawing board to reality.
The function of the blast was to loosen many thousands of tons of rock from the summit in order for the earth movers to begin clearing a flat, circular area for the foundations of the telescope. This really is just the first small step in a massively ambitious project to build the E-ELT that will take at least a decade to finish.
The science case for the E-ELT is quite easy to make, even to non-astronomers. While some of the great telescopes now in space and on the ground are designed to observe technical subjects such as the geometry of galaxies or the formation of stars, the E-ELT pitches itself as the telescope that will allow us to directly look at other planets around other stars.
The E-ELT science team reckon they have a good chance of being the first to directly observe little blue dots like Earth, if they exist.
Read more on Euronews website.