In the middle of the Atacama Desert, at an altitude exceeding 3000 meters, the world’s largest telescope is being erected. VMB engineering participated as local consultant regarding structural engineering and seismic demands, collaborating with other distinguished international engineering and contracting firms. The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), is an Initiative of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and will have a main mirror of 39m in diameter. This will make it the “The world’s biggest eye on the sky” according to that international scientific organization. With the start of operations planned for 2025, this telescope’s main objectives are to help characterize the atmosphere around rocky exo-planets, as well as helping to answer questions regarding the expansion of the Universe.
Located on the top of the Armazones hill, in the Chilean Region of Antofagasta, the telescope consists of a 71m diameter and 62 m tall steel structure with a 39m mirror. It will be placed inside a “dome” measuring 80m tall and 93m of diameter, equipped with sliding doors and that can also rotate. The steel structure is supported by a cylindrical concrete structure that will incorporate seismic isolation that will protect the building against both horizontal and vertical seismic accelerations.