Advances in astronomical observatories in Chile will enable scientists to discover planets like that today I live, said in an interview with Efe the director-general of the European Southern Observatory, Tim Zewuw in a couple of decades.
"We will discover planets like the Earth in fifteen or twenty years," says responsible for the ESO (European Southern Observatory), the intergovernmental organization of astronomical science and technology most important in the world.
Precisely today 51 years ago, European astronomers from different countries were determined to build an Observatory in the southern hemisphere, specifically in the Cerro La Chair de Chile.
Since then, that has developed an ambitious programme of design, construction and operation of the most powerful astronomical observation facilities that has ever been known.
In addition to the Paranal Observatory, which became operational in 1996, that has facilities on the Chajnantor plateau (in the region of Atacama) and soon also in Cerro Armazones.
It is precisely in this place of the Antofagasta region, situated 20 kilometres from Cerro Paranal and 1380 North of Santiago, where in 2018 will start to operate the E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope), the most powerful telescope in the world, with a lens of almost 40 meters in diameter.
"To see smaller planets we need sharper eyes than we have now. "The E-ELT will be five times more potent, it will arrive more far into the universe and will allow to see Rocky planets like Earth circling around other stars to learn what are facts and what's in your atmosphere", explains the responsible for that.
De Zeeuw, an expert in formation and structure of galaxies, compares the progress of the E-ELT with the jump that four centuries ago gave Galileo Galilei, when it went from doing so with a telescope to observe the cosmos with the naked eye.
"With this telescope we discover something in which we have still not thought," says this scientist, doctor of astronomy by the University of Leiden (Netherlands), who directs that six years ago.
De Zeeuw feels proud of the contribution to science made by the Paranal Observatory, as the discoveries of "properties of the black hole in the center of the milky way, the most distant galaxies and the nature of the burst of gamma rays".
"This Observatory has contributed to fundamental discoveries in all areas of Astronomy", except the direct observation of the Sun with its telescopes, "because that is something very dangerous," explains.
THAT is integrated by 14 countries (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland), as well as Chile and Brazil, whose accession is pending ratification.
The scientific community of Paranal, formed by astronomers and engineers from different countries, has placed European astronomy in the world vanguard of science, highlights De Zeeuw.
"Our programs are the most comprehensive and advanced; No one has as powerful telescopes, and our astronomers are very good."
However, the director-general of the European Southern Observatory also recognizes the merit of contributions such as the space telescope of the NASA Kepler, which recently captured an extrasolar planet like Earth at a very high temperature.
Responsible for the it recognizes that "it has been difficult for member countries" take forward research because of the difficult economic situation in Europe, but precisely why lauded the effort.
"In practice, member countries have increased budgets and have approved all the projects, which have been more expensive than we thought because of the rising costs," he explains.
Therefore praises "the significant contribution that made all countries, including Spain, that we all know that he has had serious problems", says.
In the opinion of the director-general that, the exploration of the universe has impact on the lives of the people, although it is not noticeable in daily events.
Humanity, claims, questions about the stars, planets, and our place in the universe is made.
"For this reason we have basic research, although it does not provide immediate and cost-effective results commercially, however responds to many of those questions."
"Our generation is the first that can transform the stories of science fiction in real science, because it has the appropriate technical means," he assures De Zeeuw, for whom it is fantastic that one day you can detect evidence of biological activity somewhere in the universe.
And paradoxically, it adds, to happen thanks to observations carried out from the place of place on Earth where less life exists, the desert of Ata