New Telescope Big Enough To Spot Alien Life

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April is Global Astronomy Month, which is organized each year by “Astronomers Without Borders” and marks the largest global celebration of astronomy attracting enthusiasts and professionals from all around the planet under the motto “One People, One Sky”.

Last week, we reported on the finding of an Earth-like planet and saw the first Lunar Eclipse of 2014.

This week, we are stunned by the plans for the “Europe Extremely Large Telescope” (E-ELT) that is said to be big enough to spot Alien life and gather historic details from other galaxies.

Scientists have decided to place this telescope on top of “Cerro Armazones,” a dome of rocks that dominates the Chilean Coast Range north of Santiago. The surrounding desert actually looks very similar to the landscape of Mars as you can see in the picture above.

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In a few weeks, engineers will take the top off the 10,000ft mountain to make enough space for the large instrument. “We will take about 80ft off the top of the mountain to create a plateau – and when we have done that, we will build the world’s biggest telescope there,” says engineer Gird Hudepohl.

When completed, the E-ELT and its 128-foot mirror will allow astronomers to peer further into space and look further back into the universe’s history than any other astronomical device currently in existence.

The primary mirror will be made of almost 800 segments, each 4.6 feet wide and only a few inches thick, which will have to be aligned with microscopic precision pushing telescope-making to its limit.

E-ELT Model On field

E-ELT Model

You might wonder why scientists have chosen to go to such remote wilderness in northern Chile and chop down a mountain’s peak to make space for a telescope?

Cambridge University astronomer Professor Gerry Gilmore provides the answer. “The atmosphere here is as dry as you can get and that is critically important. Water molecules obscure the view from telescopes on the ground. It is like trying to peer through mist […]. For a telescope based at sea level that is a major drawback. However, if you build your telescope where the atmosphere above you is completely dry, you will get the best possible views of the stars – and there is nowhere on Earth that has air drier than this place.”

Cerro Armazones

Simone Zaggia, a scientist at the Inaf Observatory of Padua, believes that the E-ELT will play a significant role in finding “exoplanets” (planets that orbits a star outside our solar system) that are Earth-like and which could support life. “At present, our biggest telescopes can only spot really big exoplanets, giants that are as big as Jupiter and Saturn,” he says.

“But we really want to know about the smaller worlds that make up the solar systems in our galaxy. In other words, we want to find out if there are many Earth-like planets in our part of the universe. More importantly we want to find out if their atmospheres contain levels of oxygen or carbon dioxide or methane or other substances that suggest there is life there. To do that, we need a giant telescope like the E-ELT.”


“With current instruments, it can take minutes or hours to collect light from these objects, which is too long to resolve what is happening,” says Schmidtobreick , a scientist involved with E-ELT plans. “We will be able to study many, many more cataclysmic (natural) variables because we will be able to collect significant amounts of light from them in seconds rather than minutes or hours and so will be to resolve their behavior.”

Watch the trailer below to get more details on this fascinating instrument leading to huge scientific progress in understanding our origins and existence in this universe.


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  • Point it at the Apollo sites on the Moon.

  • By now, the whole world should be working together to construct massive optical arrays in space… The fact that we are still building these things “down here” I find troublesome. Once you get a next gen space station away from the earth, you use it as a barracks to build something extraordinary. An endless series of launches would then ferry up materials. Something tells me that humans are not this farsighted and that they are more interested in protecting their real estate investments.

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