At a ceremony at ESO's Vitacura offices in Santiago on 9 December 2013 the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, and senior representatives of the Chilean company ICAFAL Ingeniería y Construcción S.A., signed a contract for the construction of a road to the summit of Cerro Armazones, the levelling of the top of the mountain and additional civil works. The ceremony was also attended by representatives of the ESO project team.
Cerro Armazones will be the site of the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The 3000-metre peak is located twenty kilometres from ESO's Paranal Observatory, in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
The work specified in the contract will begin in March 2014 and is expected to take 16 months. It includes the laying and maintenance of a paved road, the construction of the summit platform and the construction of a service trench to the summit. These civil works will allow the required access to the summit for the future construction work on the giant telescope.
The start of telescope operations is planned for early in the next decade, when the E-ELT will begin to tackle the biggest astronomical challenges of our time. It will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world: "the world's biggest eye on the sky".
Explore further: ESO to build world's biggest eye on the sky