Starry-eyed scientists race to find dark energy and alien life

Lifestyle

Starry-eyed scientists race to find dark energy and alien life

And those who operate the giant telescope that finds life on another planet ‘will win the Nobel prize’

Jorge Vega and Fabian Cambero

In Chile's dry Atacama Desert, stargazers are scanning the clear night skies to detect the existence of life on other planets and study so-called “dark energy”, a mysterious cosmic force thought to be driving the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Central to the race to peer into distant worlds is the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), a $1.8bn (about R28bn) complex being built at the Las Campanas observatory and which will have a resolution 10 times higher than the Hubble space telescope.

The telescope, expected to begin operation by the end of the decade, will compete with the European Southern Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope, located further north in the same desert, as well as the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) being built in Hawaii...

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