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Groundbreaking for the E-ELT

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Jun 20, 2014 7:31 am via: ESO
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Ceremony marks next major step forward for the world’s largest optical/infrared telescope.

Today a groundbreaking ceremony took place to mark the next major milestone towards ESO’s European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Part of the 3000-metre peak of Cerro Armazones was blasted away as a step towards levelling the summit in preparation for the construction of the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world.

Today a groundbreaking ceremony took place to mark the next major milestone towards ESO’s European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Part of the 3000-metre peak of Cerro Armazones was blasted away as a step towards levelling the summit in preparation for the construction of the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. 5000 cubic metres of rock was removed, as seen in this photo from a distance of a few hundred metres. It was the first in a series of blastings aimed to remove a total of 220 000 cubic metres of rock for the 300 x 150 metres platform. Credit: ESO

Today a groundbreaking ceremony took place to mark the next major milestone towards ESO’s European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Part of the 3000-metre peak of Cerro Armazones was blasted away as a step towards levelling the summit in preparation for the construction of the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. 5000 cubic metres of rock was removed, as seen in this photo from a distance of a few hundred metres. It was the first in a series of blastings aimed to remove a total of 220 000 cubic metres of rock for the 300 x 150 metres platform. Credit: ESO

The groundbreaking ceremony at Paranal Observatory, 20 kilometres away from the blasting, was attended by distinguished guests from both Chile and the ESO Member States, as well as representatives of the local communities, senior officials from the project and ESO staff. The event was also streamed live online and a recording of the event can now be viewed.

The order to proceed with the blasting was given by the Chilean Vice Minister of National Assets, Jorge Maldonado.

During the groundbreaking ceremony the Chilean company ICAFAL Ingeniería y Construcción S.A. blasted part of the top of Cerro Armazones and loosened about 5000 cubic metres of rock. This is just one part of an elaborate levelling process which will help landscape the mountain, so that it can accommodate the 39-metre telescope and its huge dome. A grand total of 220 000 cubic metres will need to be removed to make room for the 150 metre by 300 metre E-ELT platform.

From left to right: ESO Director General Tim de Zeeuw, Subsecretario de Bienes Nacionales Jorge Maldonado, Intendente de Antofagasta Valentin Volta and president of ESO council Xavier Barcons. Jorge Maldonado is holding the radio as he is giving the command for the blast. Credit: ESO

From left to right: ESO Director General Tim de Zeeuw, Subsecretario de Bienes Nacionales Jorge Maldonado, Intendente de Antofagasta Valentin Volta and president of ESO council Xavier Barcons. Jorge Maldonado is holding the radio as he is giving the command for the blast. Credit: ESO

The Cerro Armazones civil works started in March 2014 and are expected to take 16 months. These include the laying and maintenance of a paved road, the construction of the summit platform and the construction of a service trench to the summit [1].

The E-ELT first light is planned for 2024, when it will begin to tackle the biggest astronomical challenges of our time. The giant telescope is expected to allow the exploration of completely unknown realms of the Universe — it will be: “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

Notes
[1] All of the structures that will later be erected at the site are specified in the E-ELT Construction Proposal, a 264-page comprehensive book with details of all aspects of the project, along with an executive summary. In June 2011, ESO Council endorsed the revised baseline design for the telescope and in December 2012 they fully approved the E-ELT Programme.

5000 cubic metres of rock was removed, as seen in this photo from a distance of a 1500 metres. It was the first in a series of blastings aimed to remove a total of 220 000 cubic metres of rock for the 300 x 150 metres platform. Credit: ESO

5000 cubic metres of rock was removed, as seen in this photo from a distance of a 1500 metres. It was the first in a series of blastings aimed to remove a total of 220 000 cubic metres of rock for the 300 x 150 metres platform. Credit: ESO

This view is from Cerro Paranal at a distance of 20 kilometres. Credit: ESO/I. Saviane

This view is from Cerro Paranal at a distance of 20 kilometres. Credit: ESO/I. Saviane

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