European ARC Announcements

European ARC Announcements are provided by ESO and the European ALMA Nodes that together make up the European ALMA Regional Centre Network.

Continued Update on the Status of the ALMA Observatory

Published: 28 May 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the global community, including ALMA users and staff. While ALMA operations remain suspended, we have been working actively on plans to restart operations at a time that it is feasible. In these unprecedented circumstances, ALMA’s first priority is the health and safety of all our staff, many of whom travel long distances by bus and plane to reach the remote ALMA telescope site in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. At this time, and given the current evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak in Chile, it is unclear when a ramp-up to start operations could begin, or when a restart of science operations will be possible. ALMA is working on guidelines and considerations for the restart of operations and will provide a next update to the community in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, Caretaker teams continue to maintain the safety of the ALMA equipment and infrastructure in both Santiago and in San Pedro, while all other staff continue to work remotely from their homes.  The Regional ARCs continue to provide support to their communities. If you have any questions, comments or concerns related to the situation at ALMA, please contact the ALMA Helpdesk at https://help.almascience.org. This newsitem is also available on the ALMA Science Portal.

Approval for upgraded ALMA Observing Tool (OT)

Published: 27 May 2020

We are pleased to announce that approval has been given for the development of an upgraded ALMA Observing Tool (OT). This comes after the successful completion of a two-year study to investigate the feasibility of converting the OT to a web-based application. The current desktop tool began development nearly twenty years ago and so the upgrade will also bring it up to date in terms of the technologies used, bringing both user enhancements and easier maintainability. However, the core functionality of the OT will not change and it will continue to work with projects made with the current tool. Development will be based at the UK ATC in Edinburgh and is expected to last about three years.

ALMA2030: Development study to upgrade the ALMA digital electronics from digitization to correlation kicks off

Published: 27 May 2020

A new development study, led by the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux, will examine solutions to upgrade the ALMA digitization system. This study follows one of the key recommendations of the ALMA Development Roadmap, which is to increase the instantaneous bandwidth of the observatory by a factor of two or more. Importantly, the precursor study by the Bordeaux group identified a new digitizer that can cover an instantaneous bandwidth of up to 20 GHz per sideband.  At the same time, these new devices would increase the quantization efficiency by more than 10%, increasing it to about 96 %, which would directly improve ALMA’s sensitivity. The performance of this digitizer will now be verified aiming at series production of around 100 devices. The study will also look into an upgrade of the optical transmission between antennas and correlator, which might in the future be located at the OSF building, as well as digital signal processing in order to cope with the higher data rates that will result from the upgrade.

 

ALMA Band 2 Contracts Signed

Published: 15 May 2020

The contract has been signed for the production of the final set of receivers to be installed on the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Of the originally foreseen ten receiver bands, eight have already been installed, and the ninth, Band 1, is currently in production in East-Asia. Now, contracts have been signed to start the production of the final band in the original ALMA definition —  Band 2, led by ESO. Exceeding the originally defined frequency range for this Band (67-90 GHz), the proposed receiver will operate at the full 67-116 GHz frequency window. The hugely successful Band 3 receiver has already opened up the 84-116 GHz frequency range years ago, but the new Band 2 will allow for observations across the entire 67-116 GHz atmospheric window using a single receiver. The project will involve multiple international partners as detailed below.

ALMA and La Silla Paranal Data Jointly Accessible from the ESO Archive Science Portal

Published: 10 May 2020

ALMA data products have been integrated into the ESO Archive Science Portal along with data products from the La Silla Paranal Observatory (including APEX). Millions of datasets can be browsed jointly through a uniform set of query items, providing a unique integrated panchromatic view of the southern hemisphere extending from the near-ultraviolet to millimetre wavelengths. Queries can be carried out interactively through a web application which presents the results on the celestial sphere and provides aggregate and detailed individual information, or via direct database and Virtual Observatory access for programmatic, recurring and/or massive queries. The selected data can then be downloaded from the respective portals for ALMA and ESO. In this initial phase content from the ALMA Archive Interface is synchronised every two weeks, with the cadence progressively increasing with time.

Update on the Status of ALMA Cycles 7 and 8

Published: 24 Apr 2020

On behalf of the ALMA Director, with support from all Executives, the recent decisions taken regarding the status of Cycle 7 and Cycle 8 are as follows:

  • The start of ALMA Cycle 8 has been postponed until 2021 October. It is anticipated that the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals will open again in 2021 March.
  • ALMA Cycle 7 will continue through 2021 September, with currently non-completed projects ranked A, B and C remaining in the observing queue.

ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals Suspended due to COVID-19

Published: 17 Apr 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has continued to affect the global community, including ALMA users and staff. ALMA operations remain suspended, as announced on March 20. Under these difficult and unprecedented circumstances, the ALMA Director, with support from all Executives, has decided to suspend the submission of Cycle 8 proposals until further notice. The Cycle 8 proposal submission server will be closed as of 15:00UT on Friday, 17 April, 2020.

Job Advertisement at ESO: Software Engineer for the ALMA Science Archive

Published: 15 Apr 2020

ESO is looking for a software engineer to join the Data Flow Infrastructure (DFI) group in the Science Operations Software (SCS) department of the Directorate of Engineering. The DFI group is responsible for the development and maintenance of software tools which are critical for the end-to-end operations of the ESO observatories.

The deadline for applications is the 17th of May. More information and instructions on how to apply are provided on the recruitment portal.

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