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PROCON SYSTEMS WILL REALIZE A NEW PROJECT FOR THE EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY

24-03-2019

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is the most important intergovernmental science and technology organization in astronomy in the Southern Hemisphere, in which Spain joined as a full member in 2007.

ESO carries out a program aimed at the design, construction and operation of powerful astronomical observation facilities, providing the necessary tools to uncover important scientific discoveries in space. Currently, ESO operates in three unique locations in the Chilean Atacama Desert and have been selected for their high quality for the observation: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor.

The Paranal observatory, at 2,600 meters high and 12 kilometers inland from the Pacific coast, houses the Very Large Telescope (Very Large Telescope, VLT) where Procon Systems will develop its next project of upgrade of control systems. The VTL is currently the most advanced telescope in European astronomy that allows to see objects that are four billion times weaker than those seen with the naked eye. It is made up of four “Unitary Telescopes”, each with a mirror of 8.2 meters in diameter and four mobile “Auxiliary Telescopes” with mirrors of 1.8 meters in diameter.

Furthermore, the VTL can be used as a giant optical interferometer combining the light from several of the 'Unitary Telescopes' and the 'Auxiliary Telescopes', which allows a vision so acute that it is equivalent to a distance of more than 200 meters. This means that the VLT can reconstruct images with an angular resolution of milliseconds of arc, which would be equivalent to distinguishing the two headlights of a vehicle at a distance like the distance that separates the Earth from the Moon.

In concrete it will be in the VTL where Procon Systems will modernize the coating process of the mirrors of the Very Large Telescope, replacing the current control system based on a Siemens S5 PLC with a new one based on a Siemens S7 PLC.

This is Procon Systems' first collaboration with ESO, which will begin next Sunday, March 24, 2019, with the project team traveling to Chile for the project kick-off meeting.