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World's largest space observatory opens in Chile

Published on Mar 14, 2013 6:12 AM

LLANO CHAJNANTOR, Chile (AFP) - What is thought to be the world's largest ground-based observatory opened on Wednesday in northern Chile, wielding unprecedented power to peer into the remotest regions of the universe.

The Alma space observatory was inaugurated here on a desert plateau some 5,000m above sea level, at a ceremony attended by President Sebastian Pinera and other dignitaries.

"Here in this desert, the driest in the world, it is a great privilege to inaugurate the observatory," Pinera said.

Calling it "the world's most powerful," he said the observatory will make "a significant contribution to humanity, enable a better understanding of the universe in which we live, and perhaps help us discover life beyond Earth." "Alma is a huge telescope 16km in diameter," said the facility's director Thijs de Graauw, as it was declared officially opened.

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