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ALMA Gallery

Potential MMA site in the Magdalena Mountains, 1992

The inauguration of ALMA was preceded by many, many years of work, including exploration and evaluation of many sites and the evolution and eventual merging of array projects from different countries. Some of the earliest sites considered for the MMA were in New Mexico near the VLA. This photo from early 1992, was taken at the proposed center of the MMA site in the Magdalena Mountains, now the site of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer, looking north toward the South Baldy summit. Visiting observer Don Backer with NRAO staff members Joan Wrobel, Dave Wunker, and Phil Dooley, make one of the frequent visits to that site to check snow levels and tipper data. Craig Walker says Backer's skis and poles were borrowed: "Don's participation in one of our South Baldy trips is something we remember well. He was here on other business and had to borrow gear. Hence the blue jeans (rather inappropriate for a ski trip) and the satchel rather than a pack." Perhaps his upside pole is informally measuring snow depth? A crane at one of the NMIMT research sites is just visible over the crest. Thanks to Peter Napier for the original slide and to Peter, Gareth Hunt, Craig Walker, Joan Wrobel, and Frazer Owen for identifying the people and for information about the visit.
Potential MMA site in the Magdalena Mountains, 1992
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Chajnantor: Peter Napier, Angel Otarola and Frazer Owen, 1994

In late October and early November 1994, Peter Napier (standing), Angel Otarola (back to camera), Frazer Owen (wool hat), and Simon Radford (taking the photo) visited a possible site for the Millimeter Array on the Chilean Chajnantor plateau, the eventual site for ALMA. This photo, looking to the west and into the prevailing wind, shows equipment sheltered behind a large rock, with small wind break walls built to each side. Solar panels on the ground and batteries in the cardboard box power a 225 GHz tipping radiometer, the gray box with a handle sitting in the door of the tent. The team, here troubleshooting some difficulty with the tipping radiometer, made the first measurements of millimeter wavelength (225 GHz) atmospheric transparency on the Chajnantor plateau. These measurements gave the first indication the plateau enjoys excellent observing conditions for submm astronomy, much better than any sites previously considered for the MMA. More extensive measurements, which began in April 1995, confirmed the initial indications. Thanks to Simon Radford for the photo and for caption information. (Radford_nov1994_IMG0035.jpg)
Chajnantor: Peter Napier, Angel Otarola and Frazer Owen, 1994
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ALMA Operations Support Facility, 2003

Groundbreaking on 6 November 2003 at the ALMA Operations Support Facility site near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, altitude 9600 feet. In this photo, NSF's Robert Dickman christens a block with Chilean wine as (l-r) Eduardo Hardy, Fred Lo, Massimo Tarenghi, Catherine Cesarsky, and Daniel Hofstadt look on. NRAO/AUI image. (Dickmanchristensblock-2.jpg)
ALMA Operations Support Facility, 2003
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ALMA's Correlator, December 2009

The four-quadrant ALMA Correlator inside the Array Operations Site Technical Building at 16,500 feet elevation in northern Chile, December 2009. This supercomputer can process 17 quadrillion operations every second.
ALMA's Correlator, December 2009
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ALMA Front End, October 2010

Wendy Harper and Erik Gaines ready the ALMA Front End Integration Center's testing lab. Behind them is a model of the back of an ALMA antenna dish. The Front End is the cryogenically-cooled cabinet filled with the ten receivers used by ALMA astronomers. This testing facility reproduces the movements of an antenna and provides simulated observations for the receivers. Put through its paces, Front Ends for ALMA are adjusted to perfection before being shipped to Chile for integration into assembled ALMA antennas. This facility at NRAO in Charlottesville, Virginia tested 22 Front Ends for ALMA. Our partners in Japan and Europe delivered the other 44.
ALMA Front End, October 2010
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North American ALMA Antennas, March 2011

Behind ALMA's Operations Support Facility's Technical Building is the large antenna testing area. In March 2011 two North American ALMA antennas are undergoing final testing, while a third has passed and is being readied for a haul up to the array on the back of a Transporter.
North American ALMA Antennas, March 2011
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Delivering an Antenna to ALMA, March 2011

Another North American ALMA antenna rides into the 16,500-foot elevation high site in northern Chile on the back of the gentle giant Transporter. This 12-meter antenna joins the growing array in this photo taken in 2011.
Delivering an Antenna to ALMA, March 2011
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ALMA Control Room, September 2011

ALMA astronomers and telescope operators occupy this control room 24-hours a day, seven days a week. In September 2011 when this photo was taken, ALMA was not yet complete, but the array was active and doing science. The control room was divided into new antenna testing (right) and array science stations (left). All telescopes, whether they are actively observing in the array or are being put through their paces in the testing area, are controlled from this room. Data collected by the telescopes and their supercomputer are also received and processed here.
ALMA Control Room, September 2011
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