A lonely outpost in the desert (1997)

The Paranal mountain was chosen as the site of the VLT Observatory because of its excellent atmospheric conditions and, not the least, its remoteness. This will ensure that the front-line astronomical observations to be carried out there will not be disturbed by adverse human activities, e.g. dust and light from roads and mines.

However, this also means that a complete infrastructure must be established at the site before the VLT observations can begin. This includes the roads, housing, electricity, water, communications, etc. All of this was put in place during the years 1991-1997 during a major construction programme that also involved the removal of more than 300,000 cubic metres of rock and soil from the Paranal peak to create the large platform needed for the many components of the VLT.

This distant, aerial view of Paranal and its immediate surroundings in the Atacama desert was obtained in late 1997. The Pacific Ocean is seen in the background. The buildings at the base camp are seen below and to the left of the summit. At the moment of this exposure, the aircraft was located right over the "Old Panamerica" road, some 10 km from the observatory.



About the Image

Release date:18 February 2011, 15:29
Size:3000 x 2347 px

About the Object

Name:Atacama Desert, Paranal
Type:Solar System : Planet : Feature : Surface
Unspecified : Technology : Observatory

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