The world's largest telescope project received final approval from the scientific consortium backing the new observatory, on Monday.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) will build the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) at a cost of $12.5 billion. The telescope will be capable of directly imaging large exoplanets, find Earth-like planets in "habitable zones," perform "stellar archeology," and probe the nature of dark matter and dark energy.
The E-ELT will be shared by 15 European countries, according to Wired.
"This is an excellent outcome and a great day for ESO. We can now move forward on schedule with this giant project," ESO Director General Tim de Zeeuw said in a statement, according to Space.com.
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The E-ELT will gather more light than all of the existing telescopes on the planet, combined. That gives it the resolution to detect water and organic molecules in distant galaxies, the ESO website explained,.
The ESO shared more on the E-ELT in this video:
The ESO team is even expecting the unexpected. "On top of this astronomers are also planning for the unexpected — new and unforeseeable questions will surely arise from the new discoveries made with the E-ELT."
The telescope will sit on the Cerro Armazones mountain in Chile and should be operational by the early 2020's.