The world’s largest telescope is halfway through construction

ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is a leading telescope on Earth that has a 39-meter main mirror and will be The largest telescope in the world for visible and infrared light. there building Of this technically complex project is progressing at a good pace, with ELT it It’s in the middle of the road finished. The telescope sits atop the Cerro Armazones in Chile’s Atacama Desert, where engineers and construction workers are currently assembling the telescope’s dome structure at a rapid pace.

The telescope’s mirrors and other components are built by companies in Europe, with work continuing quickly here as well. ESO’s ELT will feature a ground-breaking five-mirror optical design, including a giant main mirror (M1) of 798 hexagonal segments.

State of the art system

Night image of ELT building taken June 2023. Credit: ESO

More than 70% of the blanks and supports for these segments have now been produced, while M2 and M3 are cast and polished. The advance on the M4, the adaptive, flexible mirror that will adjust its shape a thousand times per second to correct distortions caused by air turbulence, is particularly impressive: all six slender petals have been fully finished and integrated into its structural unit. In addition, all six laser sources, another key component of the ELT’s adaptive optics system, were fabricated and delivered to ESO for testing.

All other systems needed to complete the ELT, including the control system and equipment needed to assemble and operate the telescope, are also progressing well in development or production. In addition, all of the first four ELT-equipped science instruments are in their final design stages and some are about to begin production.

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Construction of ESO’s ELT began nine years ago with a groundbreaking ceremony, and Cerro Armazones summit was flattened in 2014 to make way for the giant telescope. However, completion of the remaining 50% of the project is expected to be much faster than construction of the first half of the ELT project.

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The first half of the project involved a long and painstaking process to finalize the design of the vast majority of components that would be produced for the ELT. Also, some elements, such as i mirror slices and its supporting components and sensors, required detailed prototyping and significant testing before mass production. Construction was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the site was closed for several months and production of many telescope components was delayed.

With manufacturing operations now fully resumed and streamlined, completion of the remaining half of the ELT is expected to take only five years, and the program expects to be able to begin scientific observations in 2028. ESO’s ELT will seek answers to questions such as: We are alone in the universe ? Are the laws of physics universal? How did the first stars and galaxies form? It will fundamentally change what we know about our universe and make us rethink our place in the universe.

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References: ESO

Maggie Benson

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