Lt. Commander Data on 20 years with the Hubble Space Telescope, plus Chile wins the European Extremely Large Telescope

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here's a nice surprise, Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) doing the narration for a short film on 20 years with the Hubble Space Telescope.

In other telescope news, the ESO (European Southern Observatory) has finally decided on the site for their next telescope, the European Extremely Large Telescope - it will be constructed in Chile, in a location that is shaping up to be a kind of Silicon Valley of astronomy. Right now the largest telescope we have is the Large Binocular Telescope which became operational in 2008, and is constructed of two mirrors of 8.4 m in diameter each giving a total collecting area of 111 m². The EELT, due to start in 2018, will have a single mirror of 42 metres in length, with a total collecting area of 1,300 m². The most exciting part about the new telescope would be the ability to measure the atmosphere of extrasolar planets.

2018 will also be an impressive year with the commencement of two other extremely large telescopes, the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Telescopes of this size usually end up costing about $1 billion or so. For twice the cost you could get something like this (cancelled due to cost and technical difficulty in favour of the EELT) Overwhelmingly Large Telescope, with a phenomenal diameter of 60 - 100 metres and collecting area of up to 7,854 m2.

Those tiny blips there are trucks.

Of course, the EELT is no slouch either.

Extrasolar planet hunting does, of course, take place using much smaller telescopes like HARPS (also located in Chile) which has a diameter of 3.6 metres and has discovered 75 extrasolar planets all by itself.

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