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The Chilean Altiplano Surrounding ALMA

31 December, 2009 / Read time: 1 minute

This short video presents beautiful aerial postcards of the Atacama Desert near the Operations Support Facility (OSF). Even this arid ecosystem, one of the driest on the planet, has a diverse variety of vegetation and animals. Donkeys and vicuñas can sometimes be found wandering along the road.

Every car that drives along the road leading to the observatory raises clouds of dust. To reduce the impact of passing cars, Chilean engineers paved part of the road with grains of salt. This mineral is extracted from the many dry crusts of seeps that come from subway aquifers, and can be heavy enough to withstand the traffic of ALMA vehicles and the gusts of wind that whip through the desert.

Credits: National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)