Europe's Window on the Universe
ESO has built up considerable expertise in planning, constructing and operating large astronomical telescopes at remote sites. ESO's Very Large Telescope is the world's most advanced ground-based optical telescope and has enabled many scientific breakthroughs.
This expertise forms the backbone of efforts to develop an Extremely Large Telescope for Europe's astronomers. The basic reference design was completed by the end of 2006. The final design of this facility, a study costing 57 million Euros, is now underway, with the aim of having the E-ELT observatory starting operation early in the next decade. In addition to these design activities, more than 30 European scientific institutes and high-tech companies are studying the technological aspects of large telescopes within the Framework Programme 6 ELT Design Study, partially funded by the European Commission. The E-ELT is a high technology, highly prestigious science-driven project that incorporates many innovative developments. It offers numerous possibilities for technology spin-off and transfer, together with lucrative technology contract opportunities and provides a dramatic showcase for European industry.
The E-ELT has already gained wide support in the European scientific community. This venture is the only optical astronomy project selected in the roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures. It also features very prominently in the ASTRONET European Infrastructure Roadmap for Astronomy.
The European leadership of this major flagship project will indisputably raise the European scientific, technological and industrial profile.