European Southern Observatory (ESO) Press Release: 22nd February 2013
The final front end for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been delivered to the European Southern Observatory's Operations Support Facility (OSF) in Chile, marking another milestone in the completion of the project. With one installed in each of ALMA’s 66 antennas, the front ends are the first step in a long chain of devices that receive, convert, process and record the astronomical data collected by the telescope. Each front end contains a set of extremely sensitive receivers, cooled to temperatures of just four degrees above absolute zero (-269 degrees Celsius), which detect the millimetre- and submillimetre-wavelength light that ALMA “sees”.
Construction of the front ends for ALMA has been shared between the European, North American and East Asian partners in the project. Twenty-six of the total complement of 70 units were built at the European Front End Integration Centre, based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK, including this final delivery. These 26 units are one of ESO’s deliverables as the European partner in the ALMA project.
“The state-of-the-art front end receiver systems are crucial to the successful operation of ALMA. RAL, in hosting the European Front End Integration Centre (EuFEIC) for ESO, is therefore delighted to have delivered front end number 70, the final one for the project, to Chile. Despite starting later than its East Asian and North American counterparts, the EuFEIC honed its production rate during 2012 to finish its deliveries, and this important phase of ALMA construction, on time,” said Brian Ellison, ALMA UK Project Manager.
Having arrived at the ALMA site, the front end will undergo further acceptance testing at the OSF. Its formal acceptance by the observatory will mark the completion of activities for the European Front End Integration Centre, and of the ALMA front end construction project as a whole. The ALMA observatory will be formally inaugurated on 13 March.
ALMA, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.
More about ALMA at ESO (link opens in a new window)
The Joint ALMA Observatory (link opens in a new window)
Gie Han Tan
ESO ALMA European Front End Project Manager
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6487
ESO Liaison Officer at ALMA European FEIC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Didcot, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1235 44 6741
Public Information Officer, European Southern Observatory
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6759
For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries