Watch A Mountaintop Get Blown Up To Make Way For The World's Largest Telescope

Friday, 20 June 2014 - 10:26AM
Astronomy
Friday, 20 June 2014 - 10:26AM
Watch A Mountaintop Get Blown Up To Make Way For The World's Largest Telescope

 

Up to a million tones of Atacama Desert rock were blown up yesterday in the first steps towards the creation of the world's largest telescope. The explosion was carried out on top of the Cerro Armazones in Chile, just after 18.40 BST and will make way for the aptly named European Extremely Large Telescope, which could some day advance our hunt for potentially habitable exoplanets.

 

Mountaintop removal is always kind of sad, but in this case, it might just be worth it. Located in the middle of the Atacama Desert, the site will not only large enough to house the huge 130 foot mirror base which will allow the telescope to peer deep into the space, but its conditions are also ideal for observing the cosmos: the sky is cloudless, and the arid climate eliminates the issue of water vapor blur. 

 

 

According to Dr. Aprajita Verma, deputy project scientists for the E-ELT's UK branch at Oxford, said "The telescope is a really huge step in terms of its scale - it's so much bigger than anything else."

"It will give us a deeper and finer view of the Universe," she adds. "This telescope will be so powerful that it will collect enough light to look to the observable limit of the Universe - soon after the Big Bang when the first stars and galaxies formed. [...]We'll be able to seem when the Universe switched on."

 

Verma claims that the telescope might even help us advance our search for life in the cosmos. She says, "We'll be able to look at the planets directly, look at their atmosphere and potentially look for signs of life."

"We want to get direct images of an Earth twin," said Jochen Liske, an astronomer who works on teh E-ELT team. 

 

Sounds promising! We've blown up a million tons of mountain, so the rest is easy from here...Apart from the >1 billion euro cost and the 10 year minimum building period, of course!

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