Doing Business with ESO
ESO's scientists and engineers work actively with their colleagues from European industry and other European research institutions to develop key technologies of the future. In fact, European industry plays a vital role in the realisation of ESO projects. Without the active and enthusiastic participation of commercial partners from all of the member countries and Chile, such projects would not be possible. Technology Transfer increases the value of ESO's research and development activities to society as a whole, and particularly in the ESO member states.
Some of these R&D activities involve new opto-mechanical and opto-electronic systems, and extremely high-precision control and steering of heavy equipment. Others involve hardware and software for complex telescopes and instruments, mathematically advanced image analysis, and optimal handling, archiving and retrieval of extremely large amounts of data. ESO developed the revolutionary 'Active Optics' and played an important role in developing 'Adaptive Optics' for civilian applications. AO systems are not simply of crucial importance to next-generation telescopes, but are now entering mainstream optical engineering. For example, today, the wavefront-sensing technique is exploited also in modern medicine in connection with refractive laser surgery to correct for higher-order aberrations in the eye.
Also in the field of technology development, ESO maintains close connections with many research groups at university institutes in the member countries and beyond. Thus astronomers in the member countries are deeply involved in the planning and realisation of the scientific instruments for the VLT/VLTI, as well as for other existing or planned telescopes. Instrument development offers important opportunities for national research centres of excellence, attracting many young scientists and engineers.