ESO (European Southern Observatory) is the preeminent inter-governmental organization focused on astronomy and technology headquartered in Garching, Germany. ESO operates La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile. The flagship facility is the Very Large Telescope (VLT) on top of the Paranal Mountain. The VLT sets the standard for ground-based optical and infrared astronomy and the data it produces are used every day in scientific publications. The next step for ESO is Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA), an inter-continental effort with North America, East Asia and Chile expected to be completed by 2012. The next generation VLT in the planning stages is the Extremely Large optical/infrared Telescope with a primary mirror between 30m and 60m that will make visible the earth-like planets around other stars.
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