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Final Antenna Delivered to ALMA
Tuesday, 01 October 2013

The final antenna for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project has just been handed over to the ALMA Observatory by the European AEM Consortium [1], which also marks the successful delivery of a total of 25 European antennas, 25 North American antennas and 16 Japanese antennas.

By the end of 2013, all 66 ultra-precise millimeter/submillimeter wave radio antennas are expected to be working together as one telescope, in an array that will stretch for up to 16 kilometers across the Chajnantor plateau in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

The ALMA Observatory was inaugurated by the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, in March 2013 (see ALMA press release). That event marked the completion of all the major systems of the giant telescope and the formal transition from a construction project to a fully-fledged observatory.

This delivery of the last antenna completes the ALMA antenna construction phase and provides all 66 antennas for science use, marking the beginning of a new era of discoveries in astronomy. "This is an important milestone for the ALMA observatory since it enables astronomers in Europe and elsewhere to use the complete ALMA telescope, with its full sensitivity and collecting area," says Wolfgang Wild, the European ALMA Project Manager.

ALMA helps astronomers answer important questions about our cosmic origins. The telescope observes the Universe using light with millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths, between infrared light and radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. Light at these wavelengths comes from some of the coldest, but also from some of the most distant, objects in the cosmos. These include cold clouds of gas and dust where new stars are being born, and remote galaxies towards the edge of the observable Universe.

The Universe is relatively unexplored at submillimeter wavelengths, as the telescopes need extremely dry atmospheric conditions, such as those at Chajnantor, many large antennas and advanced detector technology. Even before it was complete ALMA had already been used extensively for science projects and had shown great potential with the publication of many exciting science results (see ALMA press releases).

Notes

[1] The AEM Consortium is composed of Thales Alenia Space, European Industrial Engineering, and MT-Mechatronics.

More information

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) 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.

Contact:

Stefano Stanghellini
ALMA Antenna Project Manager, ESO
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6570
Email: sstanghe@eso.org

Valeria Foncea
Education and Public Outreach Officer
Joint ALMA Observatory
Santiago, Chile
Tel: +56 2 2467 6258
Cell: +56 9 7587 1963
E-mail: vfoncea@alma.cl

Richard Hook
Public Information Officer, ESO
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
Email: rhook@eso.org

Masaaki Hiramatsu
Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
Observatory Tokyo, Japan
Tel: +81 422 34 3630
E-mail: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

Charles E. Blue
Public Information Officer
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Tel: +1 434 296 0314
Cell: +1 434.242.9559
E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

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