British scientists are ready to search for life on another planet with the help of European Extremely Large Telescope, which allows a detailed study of subjects including planets around other stars, the first objects in the Universe.

European Extremely Large Telescope will operate under European Southern Observatory (ESO), which has been working together with its user community of European astronomers and astrophysicists, since 2005, to define the new giant telescope needed by the middle of the next decade.

More than 100 astronomers from all European countries have been involved throughout 2006, helping the ESO Project Offices to produce a novel concept in which performance, cost, schedule and risk were carefully evaluated.

Dubbed E-ELT for European Extremely Large Telescope, this revolutionary new ground-based telescope concept will have a 40-metre-class main mirror and will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world: "the world's biggest eye on the sky."

With the start of operations planned for early next decade, the E-ELT will tackle the biggest scientific challenges of our time, and aim for a number of notable firsts, including tracking down Earth-like planets around other stars in the "habitable zones" where life could exist - one of the Holy Grails of modern observational astronomy.

It will also perform "stellar archaeology" in nearby galaxies, as well as make fundamental contributions to cosmology by measuring the properties of the first stars and galaxies and probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Besides this, astronomers are also planning for the unexpected - new and unforeseeable questions which will surely arise from the new discoveries made with the E-ELT.