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E-ELT Mirror Work to Start in 2012

Photonics.com
Dec 2011
GARCHING, Germany, Dec. 20, 2011 — The ESO Council has approved funding for the first elements of the E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope). Work will now begin on the instrument’s challenging adaptive optics mirror, M4 (the fourth mirror out of five in the telescope) in early 2012.

Final approval by the council of the whole European Southern Observatory (ESO) project is expected in mid-2012.


An artist’s impression envisions the European Extremely Large Telescope in its enclosure on Cerro Armazones, a 3060-m mountaintop in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The 40-m-class instrument will be the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. (Image: ESO/L. Calçada)

All member states of the ESO are keen to move forward with the E-ELT and have unanimously agreed on how the additional costs of the huge project will be distributed. Three members — the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland — already have committed the extra funding. Several additional members — including the largest, Germany — have also stated that they are now in a position to support the project financially. It is expected that sufficient funding from member states will be committed by mid-2012, enabling full approval of the E-ELT project at that time. This schedule assumes that Brazil will have completed ratification of its ESO membership by then.

“The E-ELT is starting to become reality. However, with a project of this size, it is expected that approval of the extra expenditure will take time. Council at the same time recognizes that preparatory work must start now in order for the project to be ready for a full start of construction in 2012,” said ESO Director General Tim de Zeeuw.

The E-ELT is the biggest project ever undertaken by ESO and is the largest ground-based optical/infrared astronomical project in history. The E-ELT is expected to start operations early in the next decade.

For more information, visit: www.eso.org  


GLOSSARY
adaptive optics
Optical components or assemblies whose performance is monitored and controlled so as to compensate for aberrations, static or dynamic perturbations such as thermal, mechanical and acoustical disturbances, or to adapt to changing conditions, needs or missions. The most familiar example is the "rubber mirror,'' whose surface shape, and thus reflective qualities, can be controlled by electromechanical means. See also active optics; phase conjugation.
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