It's not the sequel to War of the Worlds! Astronomers at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) site in Chile are trying to measure the distortions of Earth's ever changing atmosphere. Constant imaging of high-altitude atoms excited by the laser -- which appear like an artificial star -- allow astronomers to instantly measure atmospheric blurring. In this case, the VLT was observing our Galaxy's center, and so Earth's atmospheric blurring in that direction was needed.
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