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ESOcast 55: The ALMA Inauguration

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On 13 March 2013, in a remote part of the Chilean Andes, the official inauguration of ALMA — the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — took place. This ceremony marked the completion of all the major systems of the telescope and its formal transition from a construction project to a fully fledged observatory. The President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, and many other high-ranking officials honoured the event with their presence. This is the ESOcast! Cutting-edge science and life behind the scenes at ESO, the European Southern Observatory. ALMA is the world’s most powerful tool for observing the cool Universe. ALMA is not a traditional telescope, but an array of 66 antennas spread out over the Chajnantor Plateau with separations of up to 16 kilometres. The antennas are linked and their signals combined, so that ALMA can work as one single giant telescope. This allows astronomers to make observations with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. More than 500 people gathered on 13 March in the Chilean Atacama Desert to celebrate the success of the ALMA project. The guest of honour was the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, who was accompanied by high-ranking politicians and officials. Amongst them were representatives of ALMA’s international partners from Europe, North America and East Asia, as well as representatives from Chile, ALMA executives, personnel and members of neighbouring communities. The event was covered extensively by press and media from around the world. The inauguration ceremony had several speakers. The ALMA Director Thijs de Graauw. ALMA Chief Scientist Ryohei Kawabe. Subra Suresh, Director of USA’s National Science Foundation. Teru Fukui, Senior Vice Minister of Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. ESO Director General Tim de Zeeuw. Finally, the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, addressed the audience. The highlight of the inauguration ceremony was when the President of Chile gave the ALMA scientists and operators the command to initiate science observations. "Go ahead, Antón." "Point ALMA towards the Galactic Centre." Many other activities were also part of the celebrations. The visitors to the ALMA Observatory explored the facilities high on the Chajnantor Plateau, at an altitude of 5000 metres above sea level. And experienced for themselves the harsh conditions at the Array Operations Site amidst the volcanic peaks surrounding the antennas. They learned more about the workings of ALMA at the Operations Site Facility where the telescope is operated and the ALMA laboratories are located. The assembly of ALMA’s 66 antennas was recently completed, with the last batch of eight currently being tested before entering into service. A partial array of antennas is already available to astronomers worldwide and is generating impressive scientific results. The history of ALMA science began with the release of a picture of the colliding Antennae Galaxies. Visible light can only see the stars that make up these galaxies, but ALMA revealed the clouds of cold gas from which new stars are born. The inauguration of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array marked the beginning of a long journey. A journey that has aroused great expectations... A journey toward breathtaking discoveries… A journey into the unexpected… A journey to our cosmic origins. ESOcast is produced by ESO, the European Southern Observatory. ESO, the European Southern Observatory, is the pre-eminent intergovernmental science and technology organisation in astronomy, designing, constructing and operating the world’s most advanced ground-based telescopes. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. Transcription by ESO ; translation by —

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 19 seconds
Country: Germany
Language: English
Views: 226
Posted by: esoastronomy on Mar 14, 2013

The ALMA inauguration ESOcast. Share the excitement of the inauguration ceremony and contemplate the breathtaking images from ALMA itself and views of its unique environment in the Atacama Desert. This event marks the completion of all the major systems of the giant telescope and the formal transition from a construction project to a fully fledged observatory. ALMA is a partnership between Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

Credits and download options are available on: http://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso1312b/

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