The Council of the European Southern Observatory has approved that the world’s largest telescope be built in the Atacama Desert in Chile; and costing about $1.4 billion, it is estimated to be completed around 2024.
It will be situated on a mountaintop in Chile’s Atacama Desert, and the reason for this is largely because its high altitude favors clear astronomical observations; and combined with the thin atmosphere provided by the high altitude, there is also virtually low levels of light pollution.
Known as the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), it will provide astronomers with the ample opportunity to evaluate and study exoplanets that are as large as Earth, and it will also enable scientists to learn about star groupings from nearby galaxies.
With the approval for its construction given and commenced in 2012, the light-collecting lens of the world’s largest telescope is estimated to be 128 feet wide and four times larger than that already in use by any telescope. It will also be 30 feet wider than the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory being built in Hawaii and expected to be completed in 2018.
The E-ELT was approved for construction in June 2012 after the approving council held that 90% of the total funding be secured before any further €2 million contracts be given; and the willingness of Poland to join ESO facilitated the 90% funding to be secured for construction to commence on Phase 1 of the project which should get the telescope up and running, while the remaining 10% funding will be made available in 2015 for the development of non-essential and sundry elements.