October 3, 2011

ALMA Early Science has started! See the ESO press release for a beautiful ALMA/HST composite of the Antennae Galaxies, the first official ALMA image released. The full list of the 112 highest priority projects selected for ALMA Early Science, including titles, investigators, and short descriptions can be found here.


September 6, 2011

The scientific and technical assessment of the 919 proposals submitted for ALMA Early Science Cycle 0 has been completed. Fifty science assessors and 25 technical assessors from all over the world have considered the expected scientific value and technical feasibility of all the proposals submitted. As a result, the most promising proposals have been selected as those most likely for completion using the initial 16-antenna ALMA capabilities. The 112 highest-priority projects cover a wide range of science and are distributed across the four broad ALMA science categories as shown in the accompanying pie chart. The observations to collect the data required to complete these projects are expected to start on 30 September or soon after.


August 29, 2011

The first of twelve 7-meter diameter ALMA antennas has just been transported to the 5000-meter-high Chajnantor plateau.The four 12-meter ACA antennas have already been moved up to the high plateau, but this is the first of the smaller 7-meter dishes -which put the compact into Atacama Compact Array- to reach Chajnantor. It is seen in the centre of this photograph, surrounded by some of the other ALMA antennas. Penitentes ice formations are seen in the foreground.The larger 12-meter antennas of the main array cannot be placed closer than 15 meters apart as they would otherwise bump into each other. This minimum separation between antennas governs the maximum scale of the features that they can detect in the sky. The ACA is specifically designed to help ALMA make better observations of these extended objects.


August 19, 2011

The second installment of Science Verification data is now available. These datasets consist of observations of the merging galaxy system known as the Antennae (NGC4038/9), and two observations of the proto-planetary disk TW Hya. The Antennae dataset is the first mosaic data to be released by ALMA, and so we have provided a new CASA Guide for calibration and imaging. Please remember that ALMA is still in the construction phase, and while we think that the currently available datasets are impressive, the quality of data being collected using ALMA is continuously improving. The Science Verification data sets are available through the ALMA Science Portal, where you will also find links to the CASA Guides. In the accompanying image, the yellow solid contours show the molecular gas as traced by CO(3-2) from ALMA Science Verification data. The yellow dashed lines show the area covered by the ALMA Science Verification mosaic. Background image credit: NASA, ESA, STScI/AURA.

August 11, 2011

ALMA is on track to start Early Science Cycle 0 observations on 30 September 2011 or soon after - this week we successfully collected data with 17 antennas (136 baselines). We now plan to start Cycle 0 observing in the compact configuration. The extended configuration is expected to be available by the end of 2011 and the timing of the reconfiguration to the extended array will take into account the subscription pressure for the two configurations. This change from the configuration sequence outlined in the Proposers Guide results in part from delays caused by challenging weather conditions at the Array Operations Site during the 2011 winter.


July 28, 2011

The first European antenna has been transported up to the ALMA Operations site at 5000 m, bringing the total number of antennas there to 16. This is the number of antennas specified for the start of ALMA Early Science Operations, and therefore an important milestone for the project.


July 12, 2011

The deadline for Cycle 0 observing proposals passed on June 30th, and now it is official: almost 1000 proposals from astronomers around the world were received for the first observing period of ALMA Early Science. The level of demand for observing time with ALMA corresponds to about nine times the number of observations that are expected be carried out during the first phase of Early Science.


June 22, 2011

Yesterday, "first light" was achieved with DA41, the first European antenna. Used as a single dish at the Operations Support Facility (OSF), DA41 produced this quick-look total power map of Saturn - truly the very first image made with this antenna. Today, the first fringes were obtained on a baseline to a European antenna using DA41 and PM04 at the OSF. The target was the continuum source 3C279 observed in Band 3 at 86 GHz.


June 2, 2011

The Joint ALMA Observatory announces the availability of the first two ALMA Science Verification datasets: 1) The protoplanetary disk TW Hya at Band 7 (0.87 mm); 2) The luminous infrared galaxy NGC 3256 at Band 3 (3 mm). The data sets are available here and include uncalibrated and calibrated data, as well as images and data cubes. Data reduction guides are also provided. The image on the left shows the CO map obtained for NGC 3256, with the velocity contours overplotted.



June 1, 2011

The Joint ALMA Observatory announces the opening of the ALMA Science Archive. Proposals for ALMA Cycle 0 may now be submitted to the ALMA Archive until the proposal submission deadline at 15:00 UT on June 30, 2011. Proposers are reminded that ALMA proposals must be submitted to the archive using the ALMA Observing Tool, and that all PIs and co-Is must be registered at the ALMA Science Portal. For more information, and access to the ALMA Software Tools, please visit the ALMA Science Portal at


April 21, 2011

The first European ALMA Antenna has been handed over to the Joint ALMA Observatory. It was moved from the Site Erection Facility , where it was assembled and tested, to the observatory's Operations Support Facility. The ALMA team can now begin to integrate the European antenna into the growing observatory, where it will join other antennas provided by the North American and East Asian ALMA partners. More...


March 30, 2011

The ALMA Director is very pleased to issue this

Call for Proposals for ALMA Early Science Cycle 0

All the details are available at the newly-opened ALMA Science Portal, which is jointly provided by the ALMA Regional Centers operated by the ALMA Partners.


March 4, 2011

The number of antennas for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) on the Chajnantor plateau has now reached double digits! The tenth antenna was moved up from the Operations Support Facility at an altitude of 2900 metres to the Array Operations Site at 5000 metres, high in the Chilean Andes, on 4 March 2011 using one of the ALMA transporter vehicles. More...


January 7, 2011

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) expects to start Early Science observations (Cycle 0) on a best effort basis late in 2011 and a call for proposals will be issued at the end of the first quarter of 2011. The purpose of Early Science will be to deliver scientifically useful results to the astronomy community and to facilitate the ongoing characterization of ALMA systems and instrumentation as the capability of the array continues to grow. Please see this announcement for more information on the plans for Early Science observations and the Science Verification program.


December 17, 2010

The world's most sensitive receiver for radio waves with wavelengths around 1.5 millimetres has been delivered to ESO. The receiver - operating in a wavelength range known as Band 5 at ALMA - will allow scientists to trace water vapour in the nearby Universe, and will also provide an unprecedented view of the most distant galaxies. The delivery is an important milestone for the project for ALMA Enhancement of Early Science, funded by the 6th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The project has developed new technologies from scratch in just five years. The development of the receivers has been led by the Group for Advanced Receiver Development at Onsala Space Observatory and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and the STFC-Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) Millimetre Wave Technology Group in the UK. For more info see the ESO announcement.


December 11, 2010

This picture captures the huge amount of antenna-related activity at the OSF in the three contractor camps and in the ALMA testing area. At the far left of the picture, antennasare being assembled and tested in the Vertex and MELCO contractor camps (note the first 7m antenna of the ACA in the Japanese contractor area). On the right-hand side, several fully assembledantennas are being fitted with ALMA equipment and tested in the ALMA testing area next to the OSF technical building. At the front left is the European antenna camp, where the AEM consortium is assembling and testing antennas to be soon delivered to ALMA. Six fully assembled AEM antennas are visible in the picture, while the seventh is being assembled within one of the container shelters. A detailed account of the ALMA status and progress towards Early Science is given in the December 2010 issue of the ESO Messenger.


November 22, 2010

The ALMA Board confirms that ALMA is on track to begin observations in the second half of 2011, and expressed its appreciation to the ALMA and regional Executive staff and contractors for a great achievement. It is anticipated that the first Call for Proposals for Early Science will be issued in the first quarter of 2011. An official announcement will be made in January 2011. Full document including test images


November 5, 2010

ESO hands over the ALMA Santiago Central Office headquarters to the Joint ALMA Observatory. More


October 6, 2010

Halfway to the Early Science Antenna Array: the ALMA array at the high-elevation Array Operations Site (AOS) has now grown to eight antennas, half the number required for the start of Early Science. More


August 8, 2010

The ALMA array at the high-elevation Array Operations Site (AOS) has now grown to seven antennas. More


July 22, 2010

A new video compilation of footage providing a virtual visit of the ALMA site is now available here.


May 31, 2010

On the Chajnantor plateau, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is growing, the number of ALMA's state-of-the-art antennas on the 5000-metre-altitude plateau in the Chilean Andes having now increased to five. invalid link:


Jan 04, 2010

For the first time in the ALMA project, closure phase has been achieved between three antennas working together as an interferometer. This massive achievement took place at the 5000-m altitude observing site in Chile and demonstrates that the ALMA system is working extremely well. Announcement


Nov 12, 2009

The first fringes have been detected using a two-element interferometer at the 5000-m altitude observing site in Chile - a major milestone in the construction of ALMA! Announcement



  • mid-2006: European ARC activities begin
  • mid-2007: First antenna arrives in Chile
  • mid-2009: Two-antenna interferometry at the OSF
  • late 2009: Three-antenna interferometry and closure phase at the AOS
  • early 2010: Commissioning and Science Verification starts
  • early 2011: Deadline for Early Science proposals
  • mid-2011: Early Science begins
  • 2012: Inauguration
  • 2013: Completion of Construction

ALMA antennas
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ALMA antennas
at AOS (high site):

There are two Web Cams at the OSF, WC1 and WC2. They allow you to watch the OSF construction activities and have been configured to show a picture every minute.

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