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Flying over the ALMA Site The Array Operations Site
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Flying over the ALMA Site: The Array Operations Site

August 25, 2011
Flying south west over the 5000-meter-high Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes gives an impressive view of the construction on the ALMA Array Operations Site (AOS). Besides the growing number of antennas, the roads along which the antennas themselves will be moved across the plateau are taking shape. The photograph was taken on 24 March 2011, and some of the antennas that had been installed at that time are visible at the center of the picture. ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, will be initially composed of 66 antennas, designed to observe the Universe in millimeter and submillimeter radiation. The main array will consist of fifty 12-meter antennas that can be spread over distances from 150 meters to 16 kilometers. In addition to the main array, ALMA will also have a compact array, composed of four 12-meter antennas plus twelve 7-meter antennas. By using the technique of interferometry, ALMA will work as a single giant telescope, enabling astronomers to observe the cold universe with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. From the high altitudes of the Andes, ALMA will provide a revolutionary contribution to the search for our cosmic origins. ALMA, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA. Image Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), W. Garnier (ALMA). Acknowledgement: General Dynamics C4 Systems


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