Up to Five Space Telescopes and Observatories could be Constructed in the Canary Islands.

The prime candidates for these telescopes are La Palma and Tenerife with the first one expected to be built in Tenerife next year.

The mini-ELF (mini-Exolife Finder) telescope, prototype in design but with unprecedented technology will allow scientists to search for life on other planets outside of the solar system. The mini-ELF is currently in the design phase and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) expects that it will begin to be built next year at the Observatory of the Teide.

The idea is that Tenerife will host this 3.5-meter telescope to test the sophisticated mirror technology it will use before the construction of its bigger brother, the full-sized ELF (Exolife Finder) telescope. The ELF will be the next step after the mini-ELF and will require the construction of a telescope with a diameter between 60 and 40 meters. But there is a long way to go before then. 

"The road is long, because what is intended is to use new mirror technologies, less expensive than current technology," explains the director of the IAC, Rafael Rebolo, who affirms that the idea is that the final telescope, the full-sized ELF could be installed in the Observatory from the Roque de Los Muchachos, in La Palma.

"We are willing to develop this new concept," says the astrophysicist, who points out that getting this agreement to build the prototype on El Teide is essential since it will take years to verify the suitability of the technology.

Cherenkov Array (CTA).

One of the projects that is most advanced is the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), a scientific project that proposes the construction of a new generation of very high energy gamma-ray detector in an immense energy range. 

To cover the entire planet, the project includes the construction of two arrays of Cherenkov telescopes, one in the southern hemisphere - already built in Chile - and the other in the northern hemisphere, at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma. 

"It is a strategic scientific facility for Europe," explains Rebolo, who is pleased that it has already been under construction for several years. Once the construction of all its pieces is completed, the CTA will help explain the mechanism of pulsars (stars that emit periodic radiation), the transfer of matter in binary systems formed by two objects. 

European Solar Telescope (EST).

Designed to be built at the Teide Observatory, the European Solar Telescope (EST) is still waiting to reach the construction agreement. This project includes more than 15 countries and probably ends up involving even Asia. 

This 4-meter telescope will be optimized for studies of the magnetic coupling between the deep photosphere and the upper chromosphere of the Sun. In other words, it will significantly increase the observation capacity of our star, allowing us to understand fundamental processes which control the physics of the plasma of its (the sun's) atmosphere. 

"For the next two years we have the ambition to reach an agreement for its construction, installation and scientific operation," says Rebolo. EST represents an investment of about 200 million euros for its construction (6 years), as well as about 10 million euros per year for its operation, for about 30 years. The IAC estimates that the construction of this telescope could mean an economic return for the Canary Islands of about 54 million euros during the construction period, and of about 364 million euros during the 30 years of operation.

New robotic telescope (NRT).

Mount Teide also hopes to host a 4-meter-diameter robotic telescope, "the largest of its kind in the world." 

The Institute for Astrophysics is working on an agreement that will close the construction, installation and operation site for the new robotic telescope (NRT). "We have an agreement in force for design development, but we have to achieve the construction one," Rebolo said. 

The University of Liverpool John Moores (LJMU), the University of Oviedo and the IAC are part of the consortium. The project requires important technological advances in various areas of optics, mechanics, electronics and software, in particular the development of a robust, reliable and efficient control system.

This telescope will be the best equipped to access important physical phenomena in the areas of gravitational waves, planets outside the solar system and supernovae. 

With funding from the Government of the Canary Islands, in 2018 the first steps were taken to create the technical team that will be responsible for coordinating the IAC's participation in the project. 

Currently, the team is made up of highly specialized engineers in the areas of systems, mechanics and software. This group has worked closely with the LJMU team and has had a prominent role in the development of the first version of the preliminary design presented in December 2018.

Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). 

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is without a doubt the jewel in the crown of all these construction projects. However, it is also the one that is experiencing the most problems. "We have an agreement so that, in case they decide to settle in La Palma, they can do so", explains Rafael Rebolo, who indicates that "the licenses are already granted", so the decision is up to the new government of the United States. 

Over the course of a year, several commissions will be in charge of deciding whether to continue with this "great science" project, or to hand it over to La Palma. “What they have told us is that they need a lot of time to evaluate all the investments,” explains Rebolo. 

Each of the committees will take at least six months to make their pertinent evaluations, for which the Astrophysicist's director considers that until the summer of 2022 there will not be a clear answer in relation to its location. 

The Thirty Meter Telescope was born with the goal of being the most advanced and powerful ground-based telescope in history, as well as the largest infrared optical telescope in the northern hemisphere that will exist at that time. 

It is included among the so-called Extremely Large Telescope type because of the diameter of its mirror. With the TMT, astronomers will be able to look further into our universe, even reaching the beginning of time. The TMT will also allow astronomers to discover and identify planets in-depth that orbit stars other than the sun. 

In this way, these planets can be examined to detect signs of life outside the earth, and this could be one of the most important discoveries of all time.