Antofagasta, Chile’s largest northern city, bills itself as the copper-mining capital of the world. Only 225 kilometers from the world’s largest open-pit copper mine, the city has the look and feel of an old-world, hardscrabble port town that’s seen its share of broken promises. The advent of fiber optic cable as a replacement for copper telephone wire could have dampened the town’s spirits. But whatever its current prospects, this outpost of the northern Atacama desert is where it feels like the end of one world meets the beginning of another. For Antofagasta is the prinicpal gateway to the world’s largest optical telescope—ESO’s $500-million Very Large Telescope (VLT), a pantheon of fiber optic technology.
KeywordsBase Camp Intergalactic Medium European Southern Observatory Interferometric Fringe Very Large Telescope
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