Located on top of Cerro Armazones in Chile, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world and will take telescope engineering into new territory. With a main mirror 39m in diameter, this ultra-advanced telescope will be housed in an enormous rotating dome 85m in diameter. When complete it will be be used to search for life on planets around other stars in the Milky Way.
The construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope will enable astronomers to search for extra-terrestrial life in 10 years' time. The revolutionary telescope, which will be built by the astronomy organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO), will gather more light than all of the existing telescopes on the planet combined.
Take a look at what the E-ELT will become...
Consulting within contract management and tendering
Since 2013 Ramboll has served as technical advisor to ESO supporting them in the procurement and contract administration of the construction and design of the telescope's dome and main structure. The project includes contract management, technical specifications and technical contributions to the tender documents.
Largest telescope ever madeBeing constructed on a mountaintop 3,060 metres above sea level in northern Chile, the telescope will be the largest optical telescope ever made. The dome itself will be almost 100 m in diameter (the size of the Colosseum in Rome) and the construction contract is the largest in the history of the ESO.
"It is exciting to be able to support such an unusual and fascinating project. We're looking at a whole new generation of telescopes able to look further back in time and give us a broader understanding of the universe and where we came from", says Claire Hall, Project Manager at Ramboll UK.
Precision and risk analysis are key
One of the challenges of constructing the telescope is that the slightest of changes can affect the readings of the device. The telescope is required to function 97 percent of the time. With a system made up of many different components that can break individually, determining the overall functioning of the telescope is a daunting task.
For instance, a central 39-metre-diameter mirror consists of close to 800 smaller mirrors, which all add risks to the overall functioning of the telescope. As the individual components of the telescope are created by a number of different suppliers, each of the suppliers must evaluate the accumulated malfunction risks pertaining to their specific components. Ramboll conducted RAM analyses (Reliability, Availability & Maintainability) to calculate the percentage risk of error in each individual system component.
A science-driven project
The European Extremely Large Telescope will enable astronomers to identify galaxies more than 13 billion light years away. The project aims for a number of notable firsts such as finding Earth-like planets where life could be discovered.
- This is an extremely ambitious project with colossal challenges, both technically and from a planning perspective. We see it as a great opportunity to further develop our skills within the field of big science, says Lars Ostenfeld Riemann, Group Market Director, Buildings, at Ramboll.
In December 2014, ESO's main governing body gave the green light for the construction of the E-ELT in two phases. Construction of the first phase of the telescope has commenced which will lead to the construction of the fully working European Extremely Large Telescope, which is scheduled to be completed in 2026.