The European Southern Council announced Thursday that the world’s largest telescope – approved in 2012 – will officially begin the first phase of construction.

The project, simply known as the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), couldn’t be constructed until 90 percent of the total funding was secured.

At the recent meeting, the governing body for the E-ELT authorized around $1 billion for the first phase, which will cover all construction costs of a powerful, fully working telescope.

The 39-meter telescope will be built on top of Cerro Armazones, a mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Tim de Zeeuw, director general of the ESA, said that the E-ELT will be “the most powerful of all the extremely large telescope projects currently planned.” The size of the structure will give scientists the ability to study and characterize Earth-sized planets and star populations in surrounding galaxies.

The largest ESC contract for the telescope dome and main structure will settle within the next year.

Several components of the world’s largest telescope have yet to be funded, including some instrument work, the innermost five rings of segments of the scope’s main mirror, and parts of the adaptive optics system.

These yet-to-be-funded fragments do “not reduce the extraordinary scientific achievements the telescope will already be able to accomplish at the end of phase one. As additional funding becomes available, these missing components will be approved.

Currently, the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) claims the title as world’s largest telescope. At 10.4 meters, it’s located on La Palma of Spain’s Canary Islands. The optical telescope was finished in 2009.

The E-ELT is a lot larger than the GTC, so it will take some time to complete. The new world’s largest telescope won’t be usable for nearly another decade, projected to be completed by 2024. The GTC can enjoy several more years at the number one spot. After the E-ELT is built, it could be a while before an even larger structure steals the title.

This isn’t the first big announcement that will change what we know about space. Just recently, NASA announced they would be taking the first step this week to send humans to mars via an asteroid. Testing the Orion capsule was schedule for December 4, but was postponed for another day.

The next decade will be a very exciting time for astronomers and those interested.