Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation Visits ALMA

Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation Visits ALMA

4 August, 2011 / Read time: 2 minutes

On 2 August 2011, the ALMA Observatory was honoured by a visit from the Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation, Cristina Garmendia Mendizábal, who was accompanied by Carlos Martinez Riera, Director General for International Cooperation at the Ministry for Science and Innovation, Xavier Barcons, Spanish delegate and Vice-president of the ESO Council, and Juan Manuel Cabrera, Spanish Ambassador in Chile.

The group traveled through the Atacama Desert to arrive at ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, where Minister Garmendia visited the ALMA antennas being assembled and tested at the Operations Support Facility (OSF).
Then she continued to the 5000-meter-high plateau of Chajnantor, one of the highest astronomical observatory sites on Earth, where Minister Garmendia could see the operations of the ALMA antennas that have been installed so far.

Very recently, the first European antenna reached Chajnantor, bringing the number of antennas on the plateau to 16 — the number specified for ALMA to begin its first science observations, which are planned to start later this year. The Spanish astronomical community is actively participating in the ALMA project. For example, the steel structures of the 25 European antennas are built in northern Spain.

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 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.