The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), is a brand new terrestrial telescope project scheduled for 2024. It will be erected near the current VLT site, which offers an exceptional vantage point for its two technological innovations: segmented mirrors and adaptive optics.Contrary to previous generations of terrestrial telescopes, the main mirror is not composed of a single piece, but of 798 hexagonal segments, each polished to within nanometer tolerances. Previous reflective telescopes used single, monolithic mirrors, but current manufacturing processes limit their size to about 8 meters in diameter. By carefully composing each of the uniquely-shaped segments into a circular array, the ELT’s main reflective surface weighs in at an incredible 39 meters. This design should allow the telescope to “collect fifteen times more light than the most powerful optical telescopes existing nowadays”, according to the ESO.The telescope will also feature an adaptive optics system, which compensates the effects of atmospheric distortion (due to meteorological phenomena such as variations in atmospheric temperature) to eliminate air distortions in real-time. The adaptive system is composed of four supplementary 4.2-meter mirrors, which move hundreds times per second to produce effects analogous to noise-cancelling headphones.Air fluctuations are recorded thanks to simulated “guide stars”, thanks to laser beams coming out of the telescope. The impulsions “excite the atmospheric sodium layer’s atoms” and force them to release a yellow-coloured flash, allowing the adaptive optics system to continually adjust to atmospheric changes.The “biggest optic and infrared telescope” will probably bring numerous contributions to astronomical research, particularly in the search for dark matter. And as always, each new generation of telescope brings with it a slight chance to find the holy grail: extraterrestrial life.