VISTA, the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy is operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The 4m telescope is dedicated to wide field infrared surveys. VISTA was conceived and developed by a consortium of 18 universities in the United Kingdom, led by Queen Mary, University of London. Project management for the telescope design and construction was undertaken by STFC UK Astronomy Centre. The telescope was an 'in-kind' deliverable by the UK as part of its joining fee for ESO.
VISTA is undertaking six huge surveys focused on different astronomical problems, five of which are led by UK scientists. Some will study small patches of sky for long periods to detect extremely faint objects and others will survey the entire southern sky. The observations will create vast new data collections that will support research in many astronomical projects ranging from studies of small bodies in our own Solar System out to cosmological investigations of the nature of dark matter and dark energy.