Satellite photographed the construction site of Extremely Large telescope

The presented images were taken by Planet satellites on February 1 and April 28, 2022. They demonstrate the site where the construction of one of the most important astronomical instruments of mankind is underway — the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

The construction site of the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) as of April 28, 2022. Source: Planet
The construction site of the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) as of February 1, 2022. Source: Planet

The largest telescope in the world

ELT will become the largest ground-based observatory conducting research in the optical range. Its central component is a huge rotating dome 80 m high and weighing 6,100 tons. The diameter of the dome room will be 88 m, which is comparable to the area of a football field.

A 39-meter main mirror consisting of 798 individual hexagonal segments with a total area of 978 m2 and a weight of 132 tons will be placed inside the dome. It will be controlled in real time by a system of high-precision sensors that provide constant optical alignment. Thanks to this, the observatory will be able to collect 15 times more light than the largest operating optical telescopes.

ELT after completion of construction (concept). Source: ESO

The design of the ELT also provides for the use of a fundamentally new adaptive optical technology, which is capable of maximally correcting the distortion of images of celestial bodies introduced by the Earth’s atmosphere. It is expected that the new observatory will directly photograph exoplanets, study their atmospheres, observe the birth of new planetary systems, and also help measure the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe. 

The foundation of the ELT was completed in February 2022. This made it possible to begin the construction of the supporting structure of the dome, inside which the ELT will be placed. A comparison of satellite images makes it possible to assess the progress made in the construction of the observatory over the following months. Currently, the commissioning of the ELT is scheduled for 2027.

You can also read about a recent image of a black hole lurking in the center of our Milky Way.

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time