High and mighty

You may be wondering what a truck has to do with astronomy. Well, this is no ordinary truck — it is an ALMA transporter!

At 20 metres long and 10 metres wide, this is one of a pair of custom-designed vehicles used to transport the 66 antennas that make up the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). From its home at 5000 metres above sea level, high in Chile’s Atacama Desert, ALMA delivers a unique view of the low temperature Universe, allowing astronomers to study how stars form in unprecedented detail.

The trucks — this one is called Lore, its sibling is Otto — move each antenna along the 28-kilometre road from the construction area at just below 3000 metres above sea level, up to the main telescope site, around 2000 metres higher. They are then used to move the antennas into different configurations corresponding to the different observing modes of the array.

Rugged and tough, as befits a vehicle working under these extreme conditions, an ALMA transporter is also a delicate and precise tool, able to position an antenna to millimetre accuracy.


Enrico Sacchetti/ESO

About the Image

Release date:8 February 2016, 06:00
Size:7079 x 4667 px

About the Object

Name:ALMA transporters
Type:Unspecified : Technology

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