ESO has given green light for European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), of around one billion euros for the first phase of construction.
At a recent meeting ESO’s main governing body, the Council, gave the green light for the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in two phases. Spending of around one billion euros has been authorised for the first phase, which will cover the construction costs of a fully working telescope with a suite of powerful instruments and first light targeted in ten years time. It will enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the fields of exoplanets, the stellar composition of nearby galaxies and the deep Universe. The largest ESO contract ever, for the telescope dome and main structure, will be placed within the next year.
The E-ELT will be a 39-metre aperture optical and infrared telescope sited on Cerro Armazones in the Chilean Atacama Desert, 20 kilometres from ESO’s Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal. It will be the world’s largest “eye on the sky”.
Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General, said:
“The decision taken by Council means that the telescope can now be built, and that major industrial construction work for the E-ELT is now funded and can proceed according to plan. There is already a lot of progress in Chile on the summit of Armazones and the next few years will be very exciting.”
The construction of the E-ELT was approved by ESO’s Council in June 2012 under the condition that contracts with a value larger than 2 million euros could only be awarded once the total cost of the telescope (1083 million euros at 2012 prices) was funded to a 90% level. An exception was granted for the civil works at the site, which started with the groundbreaking ceremony in June 2014 and are making good progress.