Did the world's largest telescopes survive the earthquake?

P10004821-300x225The world's largest optical telescopes, the VLT (Very Large Telescope Array) are located in Chile, country that was recently hit by the 7th most powerful ever recorded earthquake, which, very sadly, is now counting many fatalities. 

Each of the 8.2 meter mirror of the four large telescopes is a 23 ton construction of glass, costing half a million dollars a night to operate. You would wonder, did the mirrors survive such a strong earthquake?

They did, as the telescopes were well prepared for it. 

Chile is often hit by earthquakes. Once an earthquake starts, the mirrors are lifted by clamps and secured to the telescope's structure, which itself is designed to swing during an earthquake. 

For more information about how this works click here.

Tom Barclay, PhD student at Armagh Observatory, is about to go observing there in two weeks. 

"Are you still going?" I've asked him.

"Surely, why not? As long as the airport opens again. All ESO buildings are earthquake-proof", answered Tom.

Many thanks to Tom for sending me the above links.

© 2010 OASES