eso9731 — Organisation Release
First VLT 8.2-m Zerodur Mirror Arrives at Paranal Observatory
12 December 1997
Another historic event in ESO's Very Large Telescope Project has just occurred. The first giant mirror is on the mountain! The blanks for the four 8.2-metre VLT mirrors of Zerodur were produced by the Schott Glaswerke (Mainz, Germany) and have been polished at the REOSC factory (St. Pierre du Perray, France). For more information, see ESO Press Release 15/95. The first of the four mirrors left France in early November 1997 en route to Paranal. The transport was organized by the Gondrand company.
Following an uneventful transatlantic journey onboard M/S Tarpon Santiago, it arrived safely in the port of Antofagasta in the evening of Saturday, December 6, 1997. The 8.2-m mirror in its special Tranport Container was unloaded from the ship and made a gentle touch-down on Chilean soil at about 21:30h. A heavy-load trailer was positioned underneath and everything was prepared for the road transport to the Paranal Observatory.
The convoy left the dock at about 09:00h on Sunday morning (December 7), accompanied by a substantial escort of local police, shipping agents, press and film crews as well as many interested onlookers. It navigated the narrow passages in Antofagasta during the next hours and by 15:00h, it was well out of town and soon reached the end of the first stretch of uphill tarmac road to join the main Pan American highway. It arrived at the turn-off of the unpaved Old Panamerica Road in the evening and spent the night there.
After one more day and night in the lonely Atacama desert, the first of the large VLT mirrors arrived at the foot of the Paranal mountain ahead of schedule on December 9. Everything went according to plan and the mirror in its shipping container is now safely stored away.
Immediately thereafter, a first, provisional inspection was carried out showing no apparent damage. This strengthens the belief that the mirror arrived in perfect state. Somewhat later, the cover of the Transport Container will be lifted in order to have an full and unobstructed view of the mirror surface and to perform a very detailed inspection of the mirror in its entirety.
More information is available at the ESO website about the VLT project.
Please note that since these images were electronically recorded and were primarily obtained to document the VLT project activities, they may not be of sufficient quality for all reproduction purposes.
Professional-quality, large-scale photographic images - obtained by the ESO EPR team and related to the arrival of the first VLT giant mirror at Paranal - are also available. Video sequences will become available at a later moment. All subscribers to the ESO-NEWS Mailing List will be duly notified.