Relationships with communities in Chile (CSR)
ALMA has an excellent relationship with the community and the Chilean government both nationally and regionally. It maintains ongoing and open communication and partnerships on a ministerial level (through the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, National Heritage and Education, among others), and with regional authorities (through regional administrative offices) and local authorities, specifically the mayor and town councillors of San Pedro de Atacama and the indigenous community of Toconao.
Chilean astronomers are guaranteed 10% of the total observation time at ALMA, thereby fostering international collaboration between astronomers, research institutes and universities. Ten Chilean projects were selected for the first Early Science observation cycle (Cycle 0), and 23 of the 197 high priority projects chosen in Cycle 1 were Chilean.
Advanced Training in Human Resources
Of all observatory staff, 80% is Chilean, and many positions require advanced professional training and technical skills. The observatory offers training and refresher courses as needed. This is a key part of ALMA's efforts to position Chile as the indisputable global astronomical headquarters in the long term.
Since 2003, ALMA has supported the development of astronomy in Chile through the ALMA-CONICYT Fund, which provides annual grants for the development of instruments, outreach, internships and promotion of specialized human resources training. This year, the fund will grant close to US$ 700,000.
ALMA-Region 2 Fund
On a regional level, ALMA contributes annually to the ALMA-Region 2 Fund, also in existence since 2003. The fund promotes productive, social and economic development in the Region of Antofagasta, supporting local initiatives that compete for the grant funds. This year, it will grant more than US$ 300,000.
Links with Academia in Chile
The observatory keeps close ties with Chilean universities on scientific issues. For example, Universidad de Chile plays an active role in the development and implementation of instruments for Band 5, which constitutes one of the additional functionalities approved for the observatory under the ALMA Development Program. This university also forms part of a consortium that is developing a Band 1 cartridge prototype, another possible innovation contemplated in the program. Similarly, Universidad de Concepción participates in the implementation of the ALMA Phasing Project, an initiative funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), ALMA's North American partner.
ALMA gives Chile a unique opportunity to lead the development of data processing software and the use of astronomic instruments using public data generated by the observatory. Several Chilean universities (Universidad de Chile, Universidad Católica, Universidad Federico Santa María, Universidad de Concepción and Universidad de Santiago) participate in a project funded by the Scientific and Technological Development Fund (Fondo de Fomento al Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico, FONDEF), operated by the Chilean Government, to increase ALMA's data processing and storage capacity and develop a Chilean virtual observatory.
The observatory also participates in a partnership program with INRIA/CIRIC, a leading innovation center in this field, which recently opened offices in Chile.
Likewise, ALMA provides consulting for a research project run by Universidad de Chile, which studies the effects on human health of life at high altitudes. Finally, under its partnership with Universidad Federico Santa María, the observatory funded the design and construction of miniature robotized models of ALMA antennas and transporter trucks for LEGO®.
Education in Toconao:
In the local area, ALMA provides support for science and English education at the public school in Toconao. ALMA has provided training, selected and financed the hiring of teachers and built infrastructure to help kick off these programs. The observatory has also provided hands-on material and periodic feedback on program implementation through education specialists. The program has helped to improve Toconao students' results in national standardized tests and has been acclaimed by professors, parents and guardians, and local authorities. ALMA is currently under negotiations with the municipality of San Pedro de Atacama and other strategic partners to replicate the successful experience in Toconao with other establishments in the region.
Preservation of Atacameño cosmovision
In partnership with the San Pedro Museum and local researchers, ALMA promotes the preservation of Atacameño cultural heritage and its vision of the cosmos through an ethnoastronomy project entitled "The Universe of our Elders".
National outreach on radio astronomy:
Education and public outreach activities also benefit the general public nationally, regionally and locally. Astronomers interact regularly with the Chilean public through seminars and guided tours of the observatory. Finally, the observatory has committed to building a visitors' center in San Pedro to promote its outreach initiatives, contribute to the development of scientific knowledge of visitors, and help position San Pedro as one of the main tourist attractions in Chile.
- Huge audience attends “Great Night of Stars” event at the San Cristóbal Hill
- ALMA actively participates in Science Month in Chile
- ALMA participates in “Mattascopio,” a book about painter Roberto Matta and the Universe
Telecommunications infrastructure in the Atacama Desert:
ALMA also contributes to the development of Chile's telecommunications infrastructure through the installation of a fiber optic connection between San Pedro de Atacama and Calama, which provides a digital highway for distributing data generated by the observatory. The new infrastructure will motivate telecommunications companies to increase efforts to improve the existing telecommunications infrastructure in the cities and towns near the observatory. This, in turn, will strengthen the development of academic networks in Chile, as partnership agreements have already been signed to connect this network with the National University Network (Red Universitaria Nacional, REUNA).