A new UK deep-space telescope operating out of the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Paranal Observatory in Chile only just became operational, and is already feeding back incredible images of parts of space the human-technology-eye has never before penetrated. The Vista telescope is engaged, essentially, in mapmaking. Only instead of applying survey tools to the geography of earth, it’s applying a “super-sensitive infrared camera” to the depths of the galaxy.

This report from BBC News details how the Vista will work, and what it will be looking for. Because it is more powerful and sensitive than previous telescopes, it will be able to find previously unseen objects, and will, reportedly, be able to detect the place of “dark matter” and “dark energy” in the working of the Universe.

The news story has a link to a slideshow of Vista’s first images. While there are only a few yet up, they are mouth-watering glimpses of places like the Horsehead Nebula and the Fornax Galaxy Cluster.

These images remind me not of my childhood astronomy dreams, but more strongly of later actions: tracing maps of unseen lands, places I longed to see, the first teasing reality that awakens the hungry wanderlust in all travelers.

Take a peek at Vista’s bounty and ask yourself — wouldn’t you give anything to go and see it for yourself?