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Home / News / ALMA radio telescope array begins operation

ALMA radio telescope array begins operation

3/10/2011 >> Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), has officially opened for astronomers.

Nineteen ALMA antennas on the Chajnantor plateau. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/W. Garnier

The most complex ground-based astronomical observatory in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), has officially opened for astronomers. The first released image, from a telescope that is still under construction, reveals a view of the Universe that cannot be seen at all by visible-light and infrared telescopes.

Thousands of scientists from around the world competed to be the first few researchers to explore some of the darkest, coldest, furthest, and most hidden secrets of the cosmos with this new astronomical tool.

ALMA will be a single instrument, composed initially of 66 high-precision antennas, which is under construction 5000 metres above sea level in northern Chile, on the Chajnantor plateau operating at wavelengths of 0.3 to 9.6 mm. Its '12-metre array' will have fifty 12-m diameter antennas, acting together as a single telescope - an interferometer. The antenna Front-End data acquisition system, placed in the antenna's base cabin, is powered with CAEN custom developed Low Voltage Power Supply unit. This PS unit makes available 8 LV different voltages with extremely low ripple, remotely controllable.

"I'm very pleased with the performance of CAEN under this contract." Says Gie Han Tan, ALMA European Front End project manager, "CAEN has delivered state of the art power supplies to our demanding, custom, requirements and according to an aggressive schedule. The technical knowledge and commitment of CAEN staff involved contributed to achieving these objectives and this is greatly appreciated by both ESO and ALMA."


CAEN PS units inside the ALMA antennas

About ESO
ESO, the European Southern Observatory, is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO operates three unique world class observing sites in the Atacama Desert region of Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor.
ESO WEB site: http://www.eso.org/

About ALMA
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.
ESO ALMA Project Web site: http://www.eso.org/sci/facilities/alma/index.html
ALMA web site: http://www.almaobservatory.org/


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