21 Sep 2009



ALMA measures rare submillimetric light that comes from the furthest reaches of our universe to study the Earth's cosmic origins.

ALMA antenna pointing skyward in the Atacama desert.



ALMA (the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array) measures millimetre and submillimetre wavelength radiation, which lies between infrared light and radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum, from astronomical objects within our universe, including our own galaxy and external galaxies. It is a multinational ground-based observatory facility comprising 66 separate antennas that are located in the Atacama Desert region of Chile.

RAL Space Involvement

26 of the 70 ALMA sensitive receiver system units, which detect very faint signals from space, were assembled and tested at the European Front End Integration Centre previously located at RAL. RAL Space has also supplied approximately 1,000 photo-reference mixers that ensure coherent operation of the receivers. During the array construction phase, RAL Space provided key areas of technology including the photonic phase reference mixers, and calibration load development. The Technology Department supplied the cryogenics systems.

ALMA Objectives 

To answer important and fundamental science questions relating to the origins and evolution of the universe.

Observatory Inauguration Date


STFC, ESO, NRAO, AUI and more.

​Further Information