Astronomers from all over the world share resources in the Atacama desert of Chile, the driest place on the planet. Its lack of airborne water vapor is among the factors that make this region one of the best places for telescopes to view the night sky, and it is home to many of them. The technology employed by the European Southern Observatory at Paranal is under continuous development. A telescope dubbed the VLT (for “very large”) uses cryogenics, lasers and other specialized equipment to enable unprecedented feats of astronomy.
Metal castings on the VLT include two 3-D print-enabled components. Using a printed thermoplastic pattern, German firm voxeljet AG produced a complex investment cast sensor arm for use with the telescope’s MUSE instrumentation.