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Construction has been approved for the world's largest telescope

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ESO/L. Calçada

The world's largest telescope is finally going to see the light of day. The European Southern Observatory's Council announced earlier today that it had greenlit the planned construction project in Chile, which means that humans will have access to the aptly named "European Extremely Large Telescope" by 2024.

"The decision taken by Council means that the telescope can now be built," said Tim de Zeeuw, director general of the ESO, in a statement. "Major industrial construction work for the E-ELT is now funded and can proceed according to plan."

ESO/L. Calcada

The telescope will be built in Chile, on top of a mountain called Cerro Armazones, in the country's Atacama Desert. The project was originally approved in June of 2012, but construction could only begin once 90 percent of the total funding had been secured. The project's current approval is only related to the first phase of construction, reports Space; the Council will approve the second phase after the funds are acquired.

This is "the most powerful of all the extremely large telescope projects currently planned," de Zeeuw said. Once built, the Cerro Armazones mountain will sport a 39-meter aperture optical and infrared telescope, which means that scientists will be able to characterize Earth-sized exoplanets and study star populations in nearby galaxies. "The next few years," de Zeeuw said, "will be very exciting."