Announcement of Contract for ALMA Antennas

July 11, 2005

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Associated Universities, Incorporated (AUI), which operates the National Radio Astronomy Observatory for the National Science Foundation, are pleased to announce that on July 11, 2005 AUI signed a contract with Vertex Communications Corporation to purchase up to 32 antennas for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). 

NSF authorized AUI to negotiate and sign a contract to purchase North America's share of the ALMA antennas following a long and careful procurement process which included extensive coordination with North America’s European partner, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and with the Joint ALMA Office (JAO), which is overseeing construction of the array.  NSF's approval followed the recommendation of the ALMA Director and the unanimous concurrence of the ALMA Board, the supervisory and regulatory body for ALMA.  The decision affirms NSF's commitment to this transformational international instrument, and its confidence in the ALMA team and the strength of the ALMA partnership.  At its June 2005 meeting, the ESO Council reaffirmed its commitment to ALMA, and ESO is working to complete its parallel antenna procurement process as soon as possible, as recommended by the ALMA Director and the ALMA Board at the June 2005 meeting of the Board.

ALMA will be the premier millimeter and submillimeter telescope in the world.  It is under construction in the Altiplano region of northern Chile and, when completed in about 2012, will comprise an array of up to 64 12-meter antennas, with an additional compact array supplied by Japan.  ALMA will probe many fundamental questions in astronomy such as the origins of planetary systems and the nature of early galaxies.

The ALMA project is an international partnership between Europe, North America and Japan, in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.  The project is funded in North America by the National Science Foundation in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada, in Europe by the European Southern Observatory and Spain, and in Japan by the National Institute of Natural Sciences.  ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of North America by the NRAO, on behalf of Europe by ESO, and on behalf of Japan by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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