Brazil has signed a formal accession agreement, paving the way for it to become a Member State of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), making it the fifteenth member and the first from outside Europe.
The agreement was signed in Brasilia, by the Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology, Sergio Machado Rezende and the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw. This 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,” Rezende said.
The membership of Brazil will give the country’s astronomers full access to the observatory 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,” said de Zeeuw.
The design phase of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT was completed recently and is ready to enter the construction phase. The go-ahead for E-ELT construction is planned for 2011.
After ratification of Brazil’s membership, the ESO member will be Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. ESO operates three sites in Chile at La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor.