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As we continue our run-up to the release of Orbit Path, our upcoming mobile game set in the empty void of space, we, as humans, can’t stop thinking about our place in this massive universe ecosystem. As we stare up into this dark abyss we call space, wondering about our existence, it begs the question; how far will we go to seek the unexplainable? Here are the top 5 most futuristic telescopes being built now on Planet Earth.

1. Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)

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Location: Cerro Pachón in northern Chile

Projected Date of First Light: 2019

Using a three-billion pixel digital camera — the world’s largest — to survey the entire breadth of the sky, the LSST will basically be “movie-like window on objects that change or move rapidly,” notes a news release about the telescope.

Think supernovae or asteroids…all in your face and up close. Wicked.

The scientists won’t be greedy with the images either as they’ll offer them up to “anyone with a computer…. Supercomputers will continuously transform LSST imaging data into a revolutionary four dimensional space-time landscape of color and motion, offering exciting possibilities for exploration and discovery by curious minds of all ages,” says the scope’s FAQ page. With first flight projected in 2019 (First light is astronomy lingo for the first time a scope gets used), this bad boy is right around the corner to being used to discover the starry ocean.

2. Large Binocular Telescope (LBT)

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Location:  Pinaleno Mountains, Arizona, United States

Projected Date of First Light: 2005

Think an extremely large set of binoculars.

The Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) is made up of two identical telescopes mounted side by side that work together to display a gorgeous spatial resolution of a much bigger telescope.

Funded by NASA, this scope will obtain the best infrared images yet of dust around a star’s habitable zone — Earth sits within our sun’s habitable zone. According to NASA, “the planet-formation process naturally creates dust, but too much of it can block our view of planets. The LBTI project completed its first study of habitable zones in January 2015, opening a new door to finding planets similar to Earth.”

3. Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT)

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Location: Atacama Desert in Chile

Projected Date of First Light: 2021

In one of the highest and driest areas found on Earth, which is perfect for telescopes, the GMT will be able to let us explore the cosmos with extreme clarity and sensitivity, offering up images 10 times sharper than those taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

This project costs a cool $500M to begin, which commenced in June 2015. When completed it will be positioned to be the largest optical telescope on the planet, standing 22 stories high.

4. European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT)

Artist's impression of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in its enclosure on Cerro Armazones, a 3060-metre mountaintop in Chile's Atacama Desert. The 39.3-metre E-ELT will be the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world — the world's biggest eye on the sky. Operations are planned to start early in the next decade, and the E-ELT will tackle some of the biggest scientific challenges of our time.

Location:  Cerro Armazones, Chile

Projected Date of First Light: 2024

Costing over $1 billion (yes, with a ‘B’!), the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is aiming to be the largest “eye on the sky” on Earth. Measuring half as long as a soccer field (130 ft) it will be able to take pictures of exoplanets (planets that orbit a star other than the Sun) other scopes can dream of only detecting.

5. Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

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Location: Hawaii, United States

Projected Date of First Light: 2021

TMT will become the world’s most advanced near-infrared and mid-infrared observatory. It will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout the great big Milky Way and neighboring galaxies near the edge of the universe (near the beginning of time!!) Now if this properly be achieved, this will easily become the most important optical telescopes ever.

Conceived from three large telescope projects — between the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, the University of California and the California Institute of Technology, the telescope, will include a 492 segment, 98-foot diameter primary mirror, an active secondary mirror and an articulated tertiary mirror. Bad. Ass.

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