Ramboll helps European Southern Observatory with logistic operation

22 July 2016 Consultancy.uk

The ESO has hired Ramboll to provide consultancy for the logistic process of moving more than 900 highly sophisticated mirror segments from Europe to the top of a 3 km high mountain in Chile, where the new European Extremely Large Telescope is being pieced together. The firm, which already supported the ESO with procurement and construction process consultancy for the pieces, will assess the risks and formulate a strategy for the logistic operation as the pieces are slowing being completed – the telescope is set to become operational in 2024.

The European Extremely Large Telescope, a project by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), will be the world’s most advanced space telescope, with a completion date slated for 2024. The telescope will be composed of a total 900 mirrors of varying size – 798 of them are hexagonal 1.4 metre mirror segments. The primary mirror will have a total diameter of 39.3 metres, with the secondary mirror a diameter of 4 metres. The telescope, the largest of its kind ever made, will be housed in a dome almost 100 metres in diameter. The construction will be perched upon a mountain, 3 km up, in the Cerro Armazones desert in northern Chile. The location and design, as well as a complex set of technologies and software, is aimed at mitigating the distorting effects of earth’s atmosphere to incoming light – the telescope is designed to hunt for exoplanets.

Ramboll hired by European Southern Observatory to support mirror logistics

The pieces of the puzzle, particularly the hexagonal mirrors, are themselves finely tuned instruments, and are constructed at factories in Europe. With the project already costing almost €1.5 billion, extreme care is being taken in the construction and logistic processes to make sure that the telescope pieces arrive safely in Chile from their construction base in Europe.

Ramboll was hired by the ESO in 2013 to provide consultancy services for the procurement and construction process of the telescope pieces. The ESO again tapped the services of Ramboll recently, appointing the firm as the consultants to “identify, assess the risks and formulate a strategy for the logistic operation.”

Håvard Gaustad Harbo, Senior Management Consultant at Ramboll, says, “Transporting such structures over land, sea and partly by air takes very sophisticated operations in itself. A large part of the mission is to understand precisely how such a telescope works.”