The top of Cerro Armazones, a mountain located in the Chilean Andes, was detonated today to make room for installation of the world’s largest telescope. The 10,052-foot mountain was lowered by about 130 feet, and approximately one million tons of rock was blown away in the process, according to The Guardian.
The blast was organized by the European Southern Observatory, which is an international astronomy organization that is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art research facilities to astronomers and astrophysicists. It was founded in 1962 and its members include Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The end result will be the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which has been in the works since 2005 and is estimated to take about a decade to build. It will be about 128 feet across, which is almost four times the size of the largest existing telescope. According to the description, “The E-ELT will tackle the biggest scientific challenges of our time, and aim for a number of notable firsts, including tracking down Earth-like planets around other stars in the ‘habitable zones’ where life could exist—one of the Holy Grails of modern observational astronomy. It will also perform ‘stellar archaeology’ in nearby galaxies, as well as make fundamental contributions to cosmology by measuring the properties of the first stars and galaxies and probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy.”
“Today we cannot even imagine what will be discovered with this facility,” said program manager Roberto Tamai, according to The Guardian. “I feel excited. We are opening a highway for the future knowledge of astronomy.”
Image courtesy of the European Southern Observatory