The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project is the largest funded optical telescope in the World. With a diameter of 42 m and being fully adaptive from the start, the E-ELT will be more than one hundred times more sensitive than the present-day largest optical telescopes. Decision to build is expected by late 2010, with a start of operation in 2018. The European Southern Observatory has announced that the E-ELT will be built high on Cerro Armazones, a 3060-metre peak near the heart of Chile’s Atacama desert.
The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a ground-based telescope planned for completion in 2018. It will consist of seven 8.4 m (27.6 ft) diameter primary segments, with the resolving power of a 24.5 m (80.4 ft) primary mirror and collecting area equivalent to 21.4 m (70.2 ft) one. The telescope is expected to have over four times the light-gathering ability of existing instruments.
The current largest optical reflecting telescopes is the large Binocular telescope with 11.8 meters of effective apperture. The E-ELT will have 13 times the light gathering area. The E-ELT would have the area of three basketball courts and almost the area of a north american hockey rink (1385 square meters is 87% of the 1586 square meters.)
Science and technology drivers for future giant telescopes (10 page pdf)
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