The country had been threatened with expulsion unless it paid the money it owed to the collaboration by 1 September and also met other conditions on the status of the project. Then on 29 August, Chile came up with the necessary $2.2m.

The news came as a blow for Australian astronomers, who were poised to take over Chile's 5% share in Gemini. Nevertheless, they may still be able to take part. Informal discussions were held last month during a meeting of the Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) board in Durham, UK. Although the AAO cannot make a bid on behalf of Australia, "we are very hopeful that a solution can be found, " says Ian Corbett, director of science at the UK's Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and a UK representative to both the AAO and Gemini. "We all recognize the benefits to Gemini if Australia were to join and contribute its expertise and additional funds, " he says. "We are therefore now working together to see if we can establish a basis on which Australia could be invited to join the collaboration."