World's biggest optical telescope wins key approval

A plan to build the world's most powerful optical telescope, able to scour the heavens for planets that could sustain life, has cleared an important hurdle, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said.

Two-thirds of ESO's governing council approved the so-called European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which opens the way to starting work on the project, the consortium announced late Monday.

The 1.083-billion-euro ($1.35-billion) scheme entails building a telescope with a massive light-catching mirror 39.3 metres (127 feet) wide, several times the size of the biggest optical telescopes today.

It will be sited on Cerro Armazones in northern Chile, close to ESO's existing Paranal Observatory, where the extremely arid conditions and high altitude -- 3,060 metres (9,945 feet) -- offer excellent viewing of the skies.

Paranal already hosts the Very Large Telescope (VLT), comprising four highly advanced telescopes each with mirrors of 8.2 metres (26.65 feet) across.

"This is an excellent outcome and a great day for ESO. We can now move forward on schedule with this giant project," ESO's director general, Tim de Zeeuw, said after the council meeting in Garching, Germany, on Monday.

If all goes well, the E-ELT will start operations about a decade from now, becoming one of the astronomical assets of the 21st century alongside a vast radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) set to be built in South Africa and Australia.

Mirror size in a telescope determines how much light can be snared. A bigger mirror means more distant and smaller stars can be observed.

The E-ELT will gather 100 million times more light than the human eye, eight million times more than Galileo's telescope which saw the four biggest moons of Jupiter four centuries ago, and 26 times more than a single VLT telescope.

"The E-ELT will tackle the biggest scientific challenges of our time, and aim for a number of notable firsts, including tracking down Earth-like planets around other stars in the 'habitable zones' where life could exist -- one of the Holy Grails of modern observational astronomy," ESO said.

ESO, which marks its 50th anniversary, is Europe's biggest intergovernmental venture in astronomy.

In Monday's vote, six out of 10 countries gave firm approval and four gave "ad referendum" approval, meaning that they needed an official green light from their governments.

Four other countries said they supported the scheme and were "actively working towards joining the programme in the near future," ESO said.

Work on building the E-ELT will start once the "ad referendum" votes are made official and financial commitments are secured for at least 90 percent of the total cost.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • US ambassador slashed and bloodied in Seoul attack
    US ambassador slashed and bloodied in Seoul attack

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was slashed on his face and arm in Seoul on Thursday by a blade-wielding assailant opposed to ongoing US-Korean military drills. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which left the ambassador bleeding profusely as he was rushed to hospital, and said that President Barack Obama had spoken with him. Witnesses described how a man with a blade concealed in his right hand had lunged across a table at Lippert at a breakfast function at …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

  • Another source of SAF execution video identified
    Another source of SAF execution video identified

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still tracing the source of the video showing one of the wounded police commandos being finished off by Muslim rebels during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A source from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have identified two persons who first uploaded the video that went viral over social networking sites. The supposed source of the video was elusive and claimed that somebody just placed it on an external drive. The …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options