The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is finally complete, after the project's final 12-meter antenna was handed over on Sept. 30, 2013. The 66th dish, shown here, is the last of 25 European-built instruments. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) is a collaboration between the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ).
All 66 millimetre/submillimetre-wave radio antennas are expected to be operational by the end of 2013, working together as one large telescope. ALMA will operate as an interferometer, spread over 16 kilometers of the Chajnantor Plateau in the Atacama Desert, Chile.
ALMA is sensitive to millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths, between infrared light and radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum, a range that will help astronomers peel back the veil on distant objects in the Cosmos.
The giant antenna transporter, called Otto, delivers the final antenna to the array on Sept. 30, 2013.
The final dish was built by the European AEM Consortium, the largest of the project's contracts. North America delivered 25 12-meter antennas and East Asia delivered 16 (four 12-meter and twelve 7-meter).
"This is an important milestone for the ALMA Observatory since it enables astronomers in Europe and elsewhere to use the complete ALMA telescope, with its full sensitivity and collecting area," said Wolfgang Wild, the European ALMA Project Manager.
An artist's impression of the complete ALMA array in the Atacama Desert.
Possibly breaking the record for altitude record for a radio controlled hexacopter, this aerial photograph of ALMA in the extreme environment of the Atacama Desert in Chile was taken earlier this year.