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Inside an ALMA Antenna

31 December, 2009 / Read time: 1 minute

Former North American ALMA Project Director Dr. Adrian Russell goes inside a Vertex-built ALMA telescope to show us its international cryogenic receivers and complex timing systems.

Each antenna has its own cryostat with a mechanical refrigerator inside that keeps it cool to 4 degrees above absolute zero. At that temperature, the superconducting detectors inside the cryostat become extremely sensitive receiving instruments that can detect the very faint signals from outer space that ALMA observes.

The cabin also contains electronics that collect the signal from the receiver, digitize it, and transmit it back to the Array Operations Site (AOS) building at the high site, where a digital correlator turns it into an image.

Credits: National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)