Final ALMA Antenna Arrives on Chajnantor Plateau
16 June 2014
The final antenna for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project has been taken up to the high-level site at the ALMA Observatory, 5000 metres above sea level. Its arrival completes the complement of 66 ALMA antennas on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile — where they will in future work together as one giant telescope.
The 12-metre diameter dish is the 25th and final European antenna to be transported up to the Chajnantor Plateau on . It will work alongside its European predecessors, as well as 25 North American 12-metre antennas and 16 East Asian (four 12-metre and twelve 7-metre) antennas.
The global ALMA collaboration is the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence. The final European antenna was manufactured by the European AEM Consortium , as part of the largest ESO contract so far covering the design, manufacture, transport and on-site integration of the 25 antennas.
The ALMA Observatory was inaugurated by the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, in March 2013. This signified the completion of all of the major systems of the giant telescope and the formal transition from a construction project to a fully-fledged observatory.
“This marks the end point of many years of delivering state-of the art high-technology systems and components to Chajnantor and is an important milestone for the ALMA project. All ALMA antennas are now available to be integrated into the operations,” says Wolfgang Wild, the European ALMA Programme Manager.
ALMA probes the Universe using light with millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths, between infrared light and radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. Light at these wavelengths originates from vast cold clouds in interstellar space and from some of the earliest and most distant galaxies in the Universe. The telescope will provide astronomers with a window into the mysterious cold Universe where secrets of our cosmic origins are waiting to be discovered.
ALMA, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.
ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning the 39-metre European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.
European ALMA Programme Manager, ESO
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6716
ALMA Antenna Project Manager, ESO
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6570
Lars Lindberg Christensen
Head of ESO ePOD
ESO ePOD, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cellular: +49 173 3872 621
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