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Division of Astronomical Sciences
Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)
Originally referred to as the Millimeter Array in the United States, this project was conceived as an aperture-synthesis radio telescope operating in the wavelength range from 3 to 0.4 mm. ALMA will be the world's most sensitive, highest resolution, millimeter-wavelength telescope. Providing the sensitivity of a single antenna nearly 100 meters in diameter and sub-arcsecond spatial resolutions, the array will provide a testing ground for theories of star birth and stellar evolution, galaxy formation and evolution, and the evolution of the universe itself. It will reveal the inner workings of the central black hole “engines” which power quasars, and will make possible a search for planets around hundreds of nearby stars.
ALMA is an international astronomy facility, and is a partnership between North America, Europe and Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC), in Europe by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and in Japan by the National Institutes of Natural Science of Japan (NINS) in cooperation with the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics of Taiwan (ASIAA). ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of Europe by ESO, and on behalf of Japan by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ).
ALMA will consist of fifty antennas 12 meters in diameter, provided by North America and Europe, with an additional four 12m and twelve 7m antennas provided by Japan. ALMA will be located at 5000m altitude near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. After several years of detailed design and development, U.S. construction activities began in FY2002. Groundbreaking in Chile took place on November 6, 2003. Construction is planned to take 9 years.