SATCOM Technologies is on track to manufacture and install 25 of 66 antennas for the world’s most advanced ground-based observatory in Chile
The first of 25 North American antennas to be manufactured by General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies for the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) astronomical observatory was recently installed at the ALMA Operations Site located high in the Chilean Andes.
Traveling on a custom-built transporter from the ALMA Operations Support Facility at 9,500 feet above sea level, the 12-meter, 100-ton antenna made a 22-mile trek to the Array Operations Site at 16,500 feet in about five hours. Once the large antenna reached the operations site, it was installed on a concrete platform and connected to power, fiber optics and other services.
The ALMA Observatory will enable astronomers to probe, with unprecedented sharpness, phenomena and regions that are obscured from the view of visible-light telescopes, as the number of commissioned telescopes at the operations plateau increases.
ALMA program senior director for General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies Brian Schrader, who attended the transport event, said, “The transport of this antenna represents a significant milestone for the North American portion of the ALMA project. It is the culmination of thousands of hours of meticulous work by General Dynamics teams.”
The North American ALMA partners are providing 25 antennas for the global radio-antenna array. The North American partners’ antennas are being manufactured by General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies.
The North American efforts are led by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, operated by Associated Universities, Inc. and supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Research Council of Canada and National Science Council of Taiwan. The remaining antennas are provided by ALMA partners located in Europe and Japan.
Detailed information on the ALMA Project is available at http://www.nrao.edu/index.php/about/facilities/alma