The first European antenna goes up to 5,000 meters

The first European antenna goes up to 5,000 meters

28 July, 2011 / Read time: 2 minutes

Antenna number 16th of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has reached the heights of the Chajnantor plateau after having been transported to the observatory’s Array Operations Site (AOS). The 12-meter diameter antenna, which was a European deliverable, has arrived at 5,000 meters above sea level where it joined antennas from the North American and the East Asian ALMA partners. Although this sounds like just another number, 16 is the number of antennas specified for ALMA to begin its first science observations, and is therefore an important milestone for the project. Soon, astronomers will begin conducting new scientific research with ALMA.

ALMA’s Early Science observations are planned to begin later this year. Although ALMA will still be under construction, the 16-antenna array that will be available already outmatches all other telescopes of this kind. Astronomers from around the world have submitted almost 1,000 proposals for Early Science observations. This level of demand is about nine times the number of observations that are expected be carried out during the first phase of Early Science, which demonstrates how excited researchers are to use ALMA, even at this early stage.

When construction is completed in 2013, ALMA will have a total of 66 state-of-the-art antennas, which will work together as a single powerful telescope observing millimeter- and submillimeter- wavelength light. ALMA will help astronomers study the origins of planets, stars, galaxies and even the Universe itself, by observing cool molecular gas and dust in the Milky Way and beyond, as well as the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang.

ALMA, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

Look here at the precise location of the antennas: Download kmz file (Google Earth)

Press Contact: Valeria Foncea, T: + 56 9 7-5871963