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High on the Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), together with its international partners, is operating the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) – a state-of-the-art telescope to study light from some of the coldest objects in the Universe. This light has wavelengths of around a millimetre, between infrared light and radio waves, and is therefore known as millimetre and submillimetre radiation. ALMA comprises 66 high-precision antennas, spread over distances of up to 16 kilometers (10 miles). This global collaboration is the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence.
Millimetre and submillimetre radiation opens a window into the enigmatic cold Universe, but the signals from space are heavily absorbed by water vapour in the Earth’s atmosphere. Telescopes for this kind of astronomy must be built on high, dry sites, such as the 5,000-meter (17,000-feet) high plateau at Chajnantor, one of the highest astronomical observatory sites on Earth.
The ALMA site, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile, is in one of the driest places on Earth. Astronomers find unsurpassed conditions for observing, but they must operate a frontier observatory under very difficult conditions. Chajnantor is more than 750 meters (2,500 feet) higher than the observatories on Mauna Kea, and 2,400 meters (7,900 feet) higher than the VLT on Cerro Paranal. More…, how does ALMA works? and about the facilities.
Special thanks to David Rabanus, the director Pierre Cox and his assistant Daphne Elliott-Patterson for organizing my 2014 visit.
Please also visit the ESO Ultra HD Expedition blog by my friends Babak Tafreshi and Christoph Malin.


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ALMA Antenna AOS Purico 5,300 Meter 17,400 Feet
ALMA antennas and AOS from the
Purico at 5,300 meters (17,400 feet)

ALMA Antenna AOS Purico 5,300 Meter 17,400 Feet
ALMA antennas and AOS from the
Purico at 5,300 meters (17,400 feet)

Japanese NAOJ ASTE Distance
Japanese NAOJ ASTE in the distance


Warning Sign
Warning sign


ALMA Antenna Another Angle
ALMA antennas from another angle


ALMA Antenna AOS Another Angle
ALMA antennas and AOS
from another angle

Single Antenna Atacama Cosmology Telescope ACT Overlooking ALMA
Single antenna belonging to ACT
overlooking ALMA

ALMA Antenna AOS 4WD
ALMA antennas and AOS
with own 4WD

ALMA Antenna
ALMA antennas


AOS Building Service Vehicle
AOS building with service vehicles


ALMA Antenna
ALMA antennas


ALMA Antenna
ALMA antennas


1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5  <— Previous Pages
Next Page —>  7
Page "Cerro Paranal VLT" |  Page "Cerro Armazones E-ELT" |  This is page "Llano de Chajnantor ALMA" |  Page "Atacama Cosmology Telescope ACT"

Last page update on April 15, 2014.
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