October 2010 — The future ALMA array on Chajnantor (artist's rendering)
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is the largest astronomical project currently in existence. This revolutionary array consists of 66 giant 12-metre and 7-metre diameter antennas observing at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths. It is being built on the breathtaking 5000-metre high Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes. Scientific observations with a reduced array will begin in 2011. In this artist’s rendering, the ALMA array is seen in an extended configuration. Custom-built transporter vehicles can move the antennas, each weighing over 100 tons, to different positions. ALMA will be the most powerful telescope for observing the cool Universe, including molecular gas and dust as well as relic radiation of the Big Bang. It will study the building blocks of stars, planetary systems, galaxies and life. ALMA, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ESO is the European partner in ALMA.
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ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Calçada