Featured Video Play Icon

The ALMA Transporter Garage

31 December, 2009 / Read time: 1 minute

Former North American ALMA Project Director Dr. Adrian Russell shows us around the Garage, located behind the Technical Building at the ALMA Operations Support Facility, where we keep ALMA's two giant Transporters. Named Otto and Lore, these monster trucks carefully lift and move ALMA's telescopes around the site.

One important requirement for the antennas was that they needed to be movable; they not only had to be transported to the Array Operations Site after their assembly, but once there, they need to be regularly reconfigured. Transporting the antennas, however, is not a simple matter, as they weigh 100 tons apiece and are high-precision instruments that require very careful handling.

That’s why the two transporters, Otto and Lore, were designed especially for this purpose. Each transporter has 28 wheels and power equivalent to two Formula 1 engines. When in transit, the antennas are connected to a generator in the transporter that protects their cryogenic receivers and keeps them from getting too warm.

Each transporter needs at least one person to operate it from within the cab, but is equipped to hold up to two. Moving an antenna requires at least six highly trained people!