February 2010 — ALMA antennas at the Operations Support Facility

A view from inside the main building of the Operations Support Facility, located at an altitude of 2900 metres, and part of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the world’s largest astronomical project. Three antennas that are currently being tested are seen outside. On 30 April 2009, scientists and engineers working on ALMA linked two of the array’s astronomical antennas successfully, synchronised with a precision of one millionth of a millionth of a second, to observe the planet Mars. The observations demonstrated ALMA’s full hardware functionality and connectivity. When completed around 2012, ALMA will comprise an array of 66 giant 12-metre and 7-metre diameter antennas observing at milli–metre and submillimetre wavelengths.

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