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Testing an ALMA Antenna

31 December, 2009 / Read time: 1 minute

This short video explains how we ensure that the antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) can follow the trajectories of celestial objects with precision, in order to study them in detail.

From our perspective, the sun, as well as other stars, galaxies and objects, seems to move across the sky, rising and hiding over the horizon. However, it is us who are actually moving, along with the rotation of the planet.

In the footage, we can see mechanical engineer Nick Emerson evaluating the tracking of a 12-meter antenna aiming to the sun. Using a small camera on the antenna, and with the help of a software, Nick is able to corroborate how accurately the antenna is tracking before it is used at the Antenna Array Operations Site (AOS).

Credits: National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)