The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is presently completing the construction the largest and most capable earth-based astronomical project in the world. The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) is located at five kilometers above sea level in the Andes Mountains in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. The combination of a dry and thin atmosphere make this site uniquely well suited for the mission of the observatory.
ALMA operates from 30 to 950 GHz and its ability to make precise measurements of millimeter-wave radiation over a number of bands across this range enables astronomers to accurately target those observations needed to understand the physically cooler objects in the universe. The results are already leading to many discoveries and thereby an improved understanding of the composition, formation and evolution of stars. It is the unique combination of very high precision millimeter-wave technologies and very high-speed computing technologies enable ALMA to make these truly remarkable and significant contributions.
In this presentation, an overview of project and of some of the technologies that enable this interesting work will be presented.
Michael Thorburn walks us through the ALMA array, stationed on one of Earth's highest points.