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Chilean President Visits Paranal to Announce Transfer of Land for the E-ELT
President Piñera was received at the Paranal Observatory by the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, the ESO Representative in Chile, Fernando Comerón and the Deputy Director of La Silla Paranal Observatory, Ueli Weilenmann. The President was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Moreno, as well as representatives of the local Chilean authorities.
The visit included a tour to the top of Cerro Paranal, home of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), the most advanced optical telescope in the world.
During a ceremony at the Paranal Residencia, President Piñera handed the recently signed public deed of transfer of the Cerro Armazones land over to the ESO Director General. The President stressed the importance of protecting the skies in the north of Chile. "We are taking a great step to consolidate Chile as the world's capital of astronomy. The Extremely Large Telescope on Cerro Armazones will be the largest eye in the world, an eye that will peer from Chilean skies and will plunge into those secrets that the Universe has not yet revealed. Today is a very important day for modern astronomy, and a very important day for Chile, as well.
The ESO Director General expressed his gratitude to the Government of Chile for this important milestone: "The cooperation between Chile and ESO that began 50 years ago has proved not only to be very fruitful and long-lasting, but also to provide exciting opportunities for the future - for the benefit of Chile, for the ESO Member States, and for the progress of science and technology. The E-ELT is clear proof of that."
According to the legal documents, the Chilean government will transfer 189 square kilometres of land around Cerro Armazones for the installation of the E-ELT and will grant a 50-year concession relating to the surrounding area. This larger region of 362 square kilometres will protect the E-ELT from light pollution and the effects of mining operations. When fully operational early in the next decade, the E-ELT will be operated in an integrated fashion with ESO's Paranal Observatory.
The ceremony follows an agreement signed in October 2011 by the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ESO.
ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world's largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning the 39-metre European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".
Speech at Paranal event, 27 October 2013
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