Start of construction for European giant telescope in three years?
Construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) could begin in as little as three years: The Council of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) approved a total of 57 million euros for the necessary preliminary studies. When it is completed in 2017, the giant telescope, whose primary mirror is said to have a diameter of 42 meters, would be the largest of its kind in the world.
According to ESO Director General Catherine Cesaresky, the construction heralds "a new era in ground-based astronomy". The mirror diameter of instruments that have already been tried and tested in use, such as the Keck telescope or the Eso VLT, are significantly smaller at ten and a good eight meters, respectively.
The new E-ELT design envisages an arrangement of a total of five mirrors, two of which are used to correct minor air turbulence in the atmosphere. To do this, one of the mirrors is to be mounted on more than 500 servomotors, which distort the mirror surface around a thousand times per second in such a way that the blurring is compensated. The telescope, which has an estimated construction cost of 800 million euros, is said to be about one hundred times more sensitive than current models. It is not yet clear where it will be installed.