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ALMA from the sky

Below you will find two images captured by Google Earth early 2011, which show the Operations Support Facility (OSF), located at 2900 meters altitude, and the Array Operations Site (AOS), at 5000 m.

Both images have blue antenna icons simulating -in real time- the antennas currently being tested by ALMA at the OSF (first image) and the ones already transported to their permanent site (second image), the Chajnantor plateau (AOS), where the 66 antennas will be located when the project is completed.

The images also show camera icons which, when clicked, allow seeing the antennas live at their diverse positions. Furthermore, you can move through the different ALMA sites using the zoom bar located at the left side of the images.

Enjoy it !

ALMA OPERATIONS SUPPORT FACILITY (OSF)

The ALMA Operations Support Facility, located at 2900 meters altitude, is seen on this image. On the lower part are the three antennas assembly sites, corresponding to –from left to right- to the North American, the Japanese and the European ALMA partners. This is where the antennas structures coming from each region of the world are assembled to achieve the stringent technical requirements. As soon as they are in optimal conditions, they are delivered to ALMA and moved with the transporters to one of the so-called antennas pads located behind the Operations Support Facility Technical Building (center of the image). This is the place where, among other activities, electronics systems are set up to convert the signal coming from the sky into a digital signal.


ALMA ARRAY OPERATIONS SITE (AOS)

This is the operation site for the ALMA antennas, located at 5000 meters altitude, on the Chajnantor plateau.
If you move the map away with the zoom, you will see the foundations (or antennas pads) distribution in the ALMA site.

On the upper part of the image one can see the Technical Building, which hosts the correlator or super computer especially designed for ALMA. Its role is to receive and decode signals coming through optic fiber from all antennas. Around the antenna icons are its 192 foundations. Why so many foundations for 66 antennas? Because the antennas will be relocated according to observations requirements and displayed in different configurations, with separations ranking from 150 meters to 16 kilometers.
Great view, isn´t it?