Part 3
Projects & Landmarks
Physical Sciences & Engineering / Landmark


Extremely Large Telescope

The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is a revolutionary groundbased telescope that will have a 39-metre main mirror and will be the largest visible and infrared light telescope in the world: the world’s biggest eye on the sky. In addition to this unparalleled size, the ELT will be equipped with a lineup of cutting-edge instruments, designed to cover a wide range of scientific possibilities. The leap forwards with the ELT can lead to a paradigm shift in our perception of the Universe. The ELT will track Earth-like planets around other stars, and has the potential of becoming the first telescope to find evidence of life outside of our Solar System. It will also probe the furthest reaches of the cosmos, revealing the properties of the very earliest galaxies and the nature of the dark Universe.

The ELT is an integral part of ESO, the EIROforum organisation operating facilities at a number of sites in Chile. The ELT programme was approved in 2012 and green light for the first Construction Phase was given at the end of 2014. It will be located at Cerro Armazones, a 3060-metres high mountain in the central part of Chile’s Atacama Desert, about 20 kilometres from Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). From construction of the immense telescope dome structure to casting of the mirrors, the work on this wonder of modern engineering has been made possible thanks to the spirit of collaboration. ESO has been working alongside a worldwide community and dozens of Europe’s most cutting-edge companies to bring the ELT to ‘technical first light’ later this decade.

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