World’s biggest telescope will search heavens for planets

April 5th, 2009 - 3:02 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Apr 5 (ANI): Scientists are planning to build a giant telescope that will be powerful enough to identify habitable planets like Earth in distant solar systems.

Astronomers claim the European Extremely Large Telescope, which will house a mirror the width of five double decker buses placed end to end, will be the first optical telescope capable of picking out the weak pinpricks of light that are reflected from planets as they orbit stars.

The scientific breakthrough will be able to spot rocky Earth-like planets up to 100 million million miles away, reports The Telegraph.

Light’s telltale signatures coming from such planets could also reveal whether there is water on their surfaces, which gases are in their atmospheres, and even if they may harbour life itself.

The 1 billion euro E-ELT will have more mirror glass than all the other telescopes in the world put together.

It is expected to be so powerful that if astronomers were to use it to peer at the Moon, they would be able to see the car sized lunar rover that was left on the moon by astronauts during the Apollo missions.

Isobel Hook, joint chair of the E-ELT science working group and an astronomer at Oxford University, said: “The astronomy community has been moving towards building progressively bigger telescopes to get sharper images.

“The resolution of the ELT is going to allow us to see objects and structures in the universe that we have been blind to until know.” (ANI)

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