eso0324 — Organisation Release
Philippe Busquin Visits Paranal
European Commissioner for Research at the ESO Very Large Telescope
30 July 2003
The European Commissioner for Research, Mr. Philippe Busquin, who is currently visiting the Republic of Chile, arrived at the ESO Paranal Observatory on Tuesday afternoon, July 29, 2003. The Commissioner was accompanied, among others, by the EU Ambassador to Chile, Mr. Wolfgang Plasa, and Ms. Christina Lazo, Executive Director of the Chilean Science and Technology Agency (CONICYT).
The distinguished visitors were able to acquaint themselves with one of the foremost European research facilities, the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), during an overnight stay at this remote site.
Arriving after the long flight from Europe in Antofagasta, capital of the II Chilean region, the Commissioner continued along the desert road to Paranal, some 130 km south of Antofasta and site of the world's largest and most efficient optical/infrared astronomical telescope facility.
The high guests were welcomed by the ESO Director General, Dr. Catherine Cesarsky, and the ESO Representative in Chile, Mr. Daniel Hofstadt, as well as ESO staff members of many nationalities.
The visitors were shown the various high-tech installations at the observatory, including many of the large, front-line VLT astronomical instruments that have been built in collaboration between ESO and European research institutes. Explanations were given by ESO astronomers and engineers and the Commissioner gained a good impression of the wide range of exciting research programmes that are carried out with the VLT.
Having enjoyed the spectacular sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the KUEYEN telescope, one of the four 8.2-m telescopes that form the VLT array, the Commissioner visited the VLT Control Room from where the four 8.2-m Unit Telescopes and the VLT Interferometer (VLTI) are operated. Here, the Commissioner was invited to follow an observing sequence at the console of the KUEYEN telescope.
"This is a tribute to the human genius", commented the Commissioner. "It is an extraordinary contribution to the development of knowledge, and as Commissioner for Research, I am proud that this is a European achievement."
"It is a great pleasure to receive Commissioner Busquin, whose actions towards European research we admire, and to share with him the excitement about the wonders of the Universe and the advanced technology that allows us to probe them", said the Director General of ESO, Dr. Catherine Cesarsky.
The Commissioner and the other guests will leave Paranal in the early morning of Wednesday, July 30, travelling back to Santiago de Chile via Antofagasta.