The ALMA Development Roadmap

Published: 16 Jul 2018

ALMA is approaching completion of its originally envisaged capabilities and, within the first five years of operations, the original fundamental science goals of ALMA have been essentially achieved. The ALMA Board established a Working Group to develop a strategic vision and prioritize new capabilities for the Observatory out to 2030 as part of the ALMA Development Program. The ALMA Board approved the resulting ALMA Development Roadmap in November 2017.

The following document is a summary of the Roadmap, approved by the Board in June 2018 for broad distribution.

The Working Group proposes the following fundamental science drivers for ALMA developments over the next decade:

    Trace the cosmic evolution of key elements from the first galaxies (z>10) through the
    peak of star formation (z=2–4) by detecting their cooling lines, both atomic ([CII], [OIII])
    and molecular (CO), and dust continuum, at a rate of 1-2 galaxies per hour.
    Trace the evolution from simple to complex organic molecules through the process of star
    and planet formation down to solar system scales (~10-100 au) by performing full-band
    frequency scans at a rate of 2-4 protostars per day.
    Image protoplanetary disks in nearby (150 pc) star formation regions to resolve the Earth
    forming zone (~ 1 au) in the dust continuum at wavelengths shorter than 1mm, enabling
    detection of the tidal gaps and inner holes created by planets undergoing formation.

Based on these 3 science drivers and the technical feasibilities, according to the vision in the Board-approved Roadmap, the current development priorities are:

  • to broaden the receiver IF bandwidth by at least a factor two, and
  • to upgrade the associated electronics and correlator.

These developments will advance a wide range of scientific studies by significantly reducing the time required for blind redshift surveys, spectra scans, and deep continuum surveys. In order of scientific priority, receiver upgrades are recommended for intermediate (200-425 GHz), low (< 200 GHz), and high (> 425 GHz) frequencies.

The Board acknowledges that there are other potential development areas for the future for which the science cases and technical feasibility need to be further demonstrated.