Awesome news in this morning. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) have approved the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in the arid Atacama desert in Chile. Already home to some of the world’s best telescopes, such as the Very Large Telescope (VLT) just 20 km away, the South American country could see the completion of E-ELT by the mid-2020s. Work on the site for telescope began back in June.

Artist's impression of the E-ELT [credit: ESO]

Artist’s impression of the E-ELT [credit: ESO]

The E-ELT mirror will be a staggering 39 metres across. Its size will make it a gamechanger in the search for exoplanets and should have the capability of peering into the atmospheres of these alien worlds and hunting for chemicals such as oxygen and water. It could also help us study the expansion rate of the universe more accurately, shedding light on the mysteries of dark energy – the ‘anti-gravity’ that seems to be pushing the universe apart at an ever increasing rate.