Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)

Chajnantor plateau in Chile

This post is not specifically ham radio related but I am sure there are hams working on this project. Most ham radio operators have technical interests that expand beyond just ham radio.

The Atacama Desert starts at the north western coast of Chile and extends up into the southwestern coastal region of Ecuador.   There are weather stations located in the Atacama Desert that have never received any rain to record thus it has acquired the title of being the driest place in the world. In the Chilean region there is an average rainfall of 1 millimeter (0.04 inches) of rain each year.

 

This panorama was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador José Francisco Salgado.

Engineers of space sciences are erecting four large parabolic reflector antennas called the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) pointing up at the star-filled night sky trying to gain more understanding of the work that lies ahead.

The construction site of ALMA is on the Chajnantor plateau in the Atacama Desert in Chile at an altitude of approximately 5,000 Meters (165,400 feet). Because of the dryness combined with the thin atmosphere of the high altitude the Chajnantor plateau offers excellent conditions for observing the Universe at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. It is believed that at these frequencies astronomers will be able to probe looking for new material phenomena. For example they might find “molecular clouds” which are dense regions of gas and dust that some think may become new stars when the cloud collapses under its own gravity. Astronomers are anticipating that many new secrets about our galaxy will be discovered when ALMA is completed and running.

ALMA is a joint project of Europe, North America, and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of China.

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