SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday that by 2020 Chile should host about 70 percent of global astronomical infrastructure.
At a stone-laying ceremony to mark the start of construction work for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in Vicuña, northern Chile, the President said the highly anticipated project will take astronomical research a giant step forward.
“To measure the magnitude of change, it is enough to know that during its first month of operation, the capacity of LSST will exceed what could previously be observed, if all pre-existing telescopes were combined,” said Bachelet.
The new LSST telescope will be built in the Cerro Pachon area, 532 kilometers (331 miles) north of Santiago, and integrated into the network of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), active in Chile since the first great international observatory at Tololo hill came online in 1961.
The new installation will be built around a telescope with a lens 8 meters (26 feet) in diameter, and a camera taking 3 billion pixel images.
It will be used to observe and identify all manner of space objects, from supernovas to near-Earth asteroids, and map them all into a 3D cosmos.
“The technological leap will be revolutionary. The information that this telescope will provide will no doubt open new fields of research, new questions that will be answered by researchers from around the world for years,” added Bachelet.
Bachelet also highlighted the trajectory of AURA, the many projects of which over time have made Chile a global leader in astronomical research.
“It is estimated that by year 2020, 70% of global astronomical infrastructure will be concentrated in our country, with the most powerful telescopes ever installed, and an investment close to $6 billion,” he said.
The president emphasized that these scientific and technological developments contribute more generally to the Chilean scientific community and the well-being of its 17 million people.