Construction has begun on what is being called the world’s largest telescope, which will enhance scientists’ ability to explore the universe when it opens in 2024.
Aptly named Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), it will feature a main mirror that is 43 yards across. For context, the main mirror will be as big as the 20 largest existing telescopes combined.
Situated almost 10,000 feet above sea level and located at the summit of Cerro Armazones in Chile, the site of the ELT was chosen due to the the extremely low light pollution and the high number of cloudless nights the area enjoys.
Upon its completion, scientists plan to use the ELT to study the depths of space and into exoplanets, supermassive black holes, dark energy, and how galaxies were formed during the universe’s infancy.
Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, lauded the project, saying, “With the symbolic start of this construction work, we are building more than a telescope here: it is one of the greatest expressions of scientific and technological capabilities and of the extraordinary potential of international cooperation.”