Brazil to join the European Southern Observatory

December 30, 2010

On 29 December 2010, at a ceremony in Brasilia, the Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology, Sergio Machado Rezende and the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw signed the formal accession agreement aiming to make Brazil a Member State of the European Southern Observatory. Brazil will become the fifteen Member State and the first from outside Europe. Since the agreement means accession to an international convention, the agreement must now be submitted to the Brazilian Parliament for ratification [1]. The signing of the agreement followed the unanimous approval by the ESO Council during an extraordinary meeting on 21 December 2010.

"Joining ESO will give new impetus to the development of science, technology and innovation in Brazil as part of the considerable efforts our government is making to keep the country advancing in these strategic areas," says Rezende.

The European Southern Observatory has a long history of successful involvement with South America, ever since Chile was selected as the best site for its observatories in 1963. Until now, however, no non-European country has joined ESO as a Member State.

"The membership of Brazil will give the vibrant Brazilian astronomical community full access to the most productive observatory in the world and open up opportunities for Brazilian high-tech industry to contribute to the European Extremely Large Telescope project. It will also bring new resources and skills to the organisation at the right time for them to make a major contribution to this exciting project," adds ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw.

The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) telescope design phase was recently completed and a major review was conducted where every aspect of this large project was scrutinised by an international panel of independent experts. The panel found that the E-ELT project is technically ready to enter the construction phase. The go-ahead for E-ELT construction is planned for 2011 and when operations start early in the next decade, European, Brazilian and Chilean astronomers will have access to this giant telescope.

The president of ESO's governing body, the Council, Laurent Vigroux, concludes: "Astronomers in Brazil will benefit from collaborating with European colleagues, and naturally from having observing time at ESO's world-class observatories at La Silla and Paranal, as well as on ALMA, which ESO is constructing with its international partners."
-end-
Notes

[1] After ratification of Brazil's membership, the ESO Member States will be Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

More information

ESO, the European Southern Observatory, is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive astronomical observatory. It is supported by 14 countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and VISTA, the world's largest survey telescope. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning a 42-metre European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".

Links

Press release from the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology: http://www.mct.gov.br/index.php/content/view/327993.html

Contacts

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Head, ESO education and Public Outreach Department
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49-89-3200-6761
Cell: +49-173-3872-621
Email: lars@eso.org

Gonzalo Argandoña
ESO education and Public Outreach Department
Santiago, Chile
Tel: +56-2-463-3258
Cell: +56-9-9-233-6137/+56-9-9-829-4202
Email: gargando@eso.org

ESO

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