Feeds

Boffins shrink giant telescope

'Only' a 42m mirror

The Power of One Infographic

European plans to build a massive optical telescope with a 100m mirror have been scaled back in favour of a 'scope with a mere 42m main reflector after the projected construction costs for the original dish reached €1.5bn.

However, the planned telescope is still bigger than the one planned by the US (30m), something scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) admit has been a motivating factor.

The telescope will still be astonishingly powerful, giving astronomers a glimpse of distant planets. While a 100m telescope could have captured snapshots of alien continents, a 42m telescope will be more limited. It will, however, be able to analyse the atmospheres of exoplanets, identifying any telltale signs of life, such as chlorophyll.

Stargazers will also be able to peer back to the earliest years of the universe, and look at some of the galaxies that formed all those billions of years ago.

The ESO has a stonking track record when it comes to doing world class science. According to the BBC, an average of 1.5 academic papers is published every day based on observations from the 8.2m Very Large Telescope the organisation currently operates.

The ESO is considering a number of sites for the 'scope. South Africa, Tibet, Morocco, Greenland and Antarctica are all still on the table. If they manage to agree where to build it, construction could begin as early as 2010. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.