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Telescope construction gets go-ahead

The European Southern Observatory has allocated €1 billion to the first stage of the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope in Chile.

The E-ELT, which is to be based near the top of the Cerro Armazones mountain in the Chilean Atacama Desert, is scheduled to start observations in the next decade, with the goal of looking for water and organic molecules on other planets. The telescope is also meant to research the earliest stages of the formation of planetary systems.

At a meeting on 3 December, the ESO’s Council committed to paying €1bn to the first of the two phases in which the construction has been planned. The agreed amount will cover the costs of building the telescope’s main structure and dome, and the purchase of a suite of instruments, the observatory said in a statement.

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