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Experience – Atacama, Chile: Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)

  • Address: Atacama Large Millimeter Array – ALMA Radio Telescope, San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile. (Google Maps)
  • Hours: Not open to the public
  • How to Arrive: By car
  • Distance from Atacama: 72 km / 45 miles
  • Alma Observatory Website
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone Number: +56 2 2467 6100 Santiago Central Office (SCO)
  • Ideal Month(s): All Year

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an astronomical interferometer of 66 radio telescopes in the middle of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The ALMA Array Operations Site, at an altitude of 5000 metres in the Chilean Andes, houses the ALMA antennas and the correlator, the fastest data processing system ever used at an astronomical site. The array was  constructed on the Chajnantor plateau, and was chosen for its high elevation and low humidity, factors which are crucial to reduce noise and decrease signal attenuation due to Earth’s atmosphere. The ALMA observes electromagnetic radiation at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. The purpose of ALMA is to provide insight on star birth and provide detailed imaging of local star and planet formation.

ALMA is an international partnership among Chile, the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The project cost ~US$1.4 billion, and is considered the most expensive ground-based telescope in existence. The ALMA project began scientific observations in the second half of 2011 and the first images were released to the press on 3 October 2011. The array has been fully operational since March 2013

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