Welcome to ALMA!
ALMA (the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is one of the largest ground-based astronomy projects of the next decade and will be the major new facility for observations in the millimeter/submillimeter regime. It will enable transformational research into the physics of the cold Universe, probe the first stars and galaxies, and directly image the formation of planets. When completed, ALMA will be comprised of a giant array of fifty 12-m antennas, which can be configured to achieve baselines up to 16 km. It will be equipped with state-of-the-art receivers that cover all the atmospheric windows up to 1 THz. An additional, compact array of 7-m and 12-m antennas will greatly enhance ALMA's ability to image extended sources.
ALMA construction is scheduled to be completed in 2013. Prior to this, scientists can exploit the continuously evolving capabilities of ALMA during a period known as Early Science. Expected to start in the second half of 2011, Early Science observations will be obtained with a very limited number of antennas, array configurations, receivers and correlator setups. More details and up-to-date information can be found in the ALMA Science Portal and the News section.
ESO involvement in ALMA
The ALMA project is an international collaboration between Europe, East Asia and North America in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. It is coordinated and operated by the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) in Chile on behalf of the three executives. The European executive is represented by ESO, which also hosts the European ALMA Regional Centre. The other partners North America and East Asia are represented by NRAO and NAOJ respectively.
The ALMA Regional Centres
The ALMA Regional Centres (ARCs) provide the interface between ALMA and the Science Communities of the three regions (Europe, North America and East Asia). The scientific communities of the ESO member states are supported by the European ARC, which consists of a network of nodes distributed throughout Europe that are coordinated by a central node located at ESO. The ARC is the point of contact for any type of user support, from first aid with proposal preparation to optimally exploiting ALMA data.
The ALMA Science Portal
The ALMA Science Portal is the main ALMA web resource for the Science Community. It contains all the information and software necessary to prepare observing proposals, access data through the Science Archive (not yet available) and reduce ALMA data. You will need to register with the ALMA Science Portal in order to submit a proposal, access proprietary data or contact your ALMA Regional Center via the ALMA Helpdesk.