The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is the pre-eminent intergovernmental science and technology organisation in astronomy. It carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities for astronomy to enable important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research.

The very high efficiency of the ESO's "science machines" now generates huge amounts of data at a very high rate. These are stored in a permanent science archives at ESO headquarters. They constitute a major science resource of highly curated, trusted data, openly available to the community. Well over half of the professional astronomers worldwide are users of the ESO archives.