1 Recent news
1.1 Construction Progress
The first astronomical detection by an
ALMA production antenna on an ALMA Chile site
has been obtained at the Operations Support Facility (OSF) using
a cryogenic receiver system from NAOJ.
This image of the moon at a wavelength of 2 mm (140 GHz) was obtained
with one of the three 12 m diameter Melco antennas. The image clearly
shows the temperature
distribution of the moon, including weak radio emission from the dark
side of the moon.
The first interferometric spectrum has been obtained at the ALMA Test
Facility in New Mexico. Todd Hunter, Robert Laing and ALMA
operators Hector Alarcon
and Roberto Aviles obtained a spectrum of the Orion Hot Core centered on
the CS(2-1) line at 98 GHz on 19 January 2008. With routine
interferometry continuing on continuum sources, acquisition of a
molecular line spectrum was the next step. It was achieved the first
time it was tried.
Figure 1: First radio image of the moon taken with an ACA antenna.
Left: Optical image taken with a digital camera. Right: Radio image
at a wavelength of 2 mm taken with an ACA antenna. The optical image
shows the sunlight
reflected by the moon's surface, whereas the radio image shows the
physical temperature distribution of the moon.
Figure 2: The first interferometric spectrum obtained with ALMA
proto-type antennas at
the ALMA Test Facility using the evaluation front-end receivers and
production back-end equipment. Blanked channels are seen as missing data.
With construction of the Technical
Building complete, the ACA correlator installed, and the transporter
hangar nearing completion, activity at the Array Operations Site (AOS)
has shifted to construction of antenna
pads. The first six to be constructed will be pads 104, 136, 109, 96, 101
and 106, which lie along Road 11 near the Technical Building. Test
borings are occurring at other pad sites.
The OSF construction is essentially complete and the crews have
left the site; some "punch list" items remain.
There are about 300 persons
on the site, the management of which has transitioned from construction to
Heavy rains (associated with the "Bolivian Winter") undercut
a portion of the Calama-San Pedro highway through the Cordillera del Sal.
However the ALMA antenna transporters, which arrived in port in Mejillones
on 6 Feb 2008, were able to negotiate the road; they were delivered to the site
13 Feb 2008.
The first phases of
acceptance for the first Vertex antenna have begun. Construction of the
fourth Melco antenna is well along.
Antenna foundations have been
built at the AEM antenna contractor laydown area. An optical pointing
telescope was installed on ACA 12m antenna No 2 and a pointing model
established. Main reflector panels are being installed on ACA 12m antenna No
1.2 Personnel news
On January 17, 2008, Richard Wade, Chair of the ALMA Board, announced that
Professor Thijs de Graauw (SRON and Leiden University, Netherlands) has
agreed to accept the position of ALMA Interim Director, effective
April 1, 2008. Thijs is a world expert in (sub)millimetre astronomy, with
excellent instrumental credentials, and substantial experience in
coordinating large international projects.
The Board has formed a search committee for a new Director; Chris
Wilson is a member of the search committee. The committee has met
three times via telecon and will be working actively to identify
suitable candidates and encourage them to apply. If you have
suggestions for people to approach for this key position, please let
Chris know as soon as possible.
For personal reasons linked to the education of their children, Dr.
Tony Beasley will leave ALMA in June to assume the
Directorship of the NEON Project in Colorado.
Tony's contributions as Project Manager, which have
enabled the realization of this transformational instrument for the
greater exploration of the universe, are deeply appreciated, by the ALMA
Board, associated agencies and executives, and by astronomers
worldwide. We wish him well in his new endeavors.
The Board has formed a
search committee for a new Project Manager, upon which Jim Hesser is
serving, and which aims to work intensely on finding a replacement. An
advertisement will be issued via the AAS Job Register on April 1. If you have
suggestions for people to approach for this key position, please share
the names with Jim as soon as possible and point them to the vacancy.
Hans Rykaczewski's current term as ESO ALMA Division Head and European
Project Manager will end June 30, 2008 and he has decided not to
continue in this role.
All of us in ALMA appreciate the work Hans has put into managing
the European side of the project.
Dr. Richard Kurz, European Project Manager for ALMA from 1999
to early 2004, will return to ESO/ALMA in an interim role beginning
February 1, 2008.
Chris Carilli will move to new position at NRAO as Observatory Chief
Scientist as soon as his replacement as the head of the North American
ALMA Science Center (NAASC)
place. An open search for a new head of the NAASC is being headed by Paul
van den Bout and the vacancy notice is posted.
2 ALMA Meetings
2.1 ALMA Science Advisory Committee (ASAC)
The ALMA Science Advisory Committee (ASAC) held a face-to-face meeting
February 1-2, 2008 in Santiago to consider three charges from the ALMA
Board. The first charge was to assess the preparation of the ALMA real time,
observing, and off-line software for early science. The second charge
was to review the calibration plan and scientific aspects of the plans
for assembly, integration, verification, and commissioning. The third
charge was to identify scientific themes and chairs for panels to
examine the scientific drivers for the long term ALMA Development Plan.
The ASAC report has been sent to the ALMA Board but is not yet
available publicly; I will discuss the results in my next update.
2.2 Upcoming Science Meetings
ESO is organizing a workshop on "Gas and Stars in Galaxies: A
Multi-Wavelength 3D Perspective" to be held June 10-13, 2008
in Garching, Germany
This conference aims to bring together the
communities working on 3-dimensional extragalactic data.
The North American ALMA Science Center will host its third annual science workshop in Charlottesville, Virginia
September 25-27, 2008. The subject of this year's workshop
is "The Birth and Feedback of Massive Stars, Within and Beyond
the Galaxy", a timely theme, given the ability of ALMA's
frequency coverage, sensitivity, and resolution to bridge the
gap between Galactic and low-redshift extragalactic studies of
star formation and feedback.
Key science questions for the workshop include:
More details about the program and logistics can be found at the
- What molecular cloud properties influence massive star formation?
- What are the best observational discriminators between theories
of massive star/cluster formation?
- How do forming massive stars affect their parent molecular clouds
(e.g., turbulence, triggering)?
- How does massive star formation differ in the most extreme
environments (e.g., Galactic center, super star clusters,
- What physics determines star formation scaling relations in
organizers encourage students, postdocs, and senior scientists
working on relevant theoretical and (at all wavelengths)
observational projects to preregister and submit abstracts before
the deadline of May 1st. A majority of the program will be selected
from contributed abstracts, with a particular focus on the "wish
list" of topics that have been prioritized by the organizers and
listed on the website under "meeting philosophy".
And finally, just a short reminder that the workshop
Öbserving with ALMA" at the University of Calgary has been delayed until
summer 2009 by the SOC.
Periodic announcements will be made during the upcoming year with
new information regarding new dates etc.
3 ALMA Developments in Canada
Raymond Rusk and Shannon Jaeger attended a CASA developer meeting in
to help lay out what needs to be done within the CASA project over
the next year. The CASA team has been working actively to prepare an
update to the CASA beta release, which should be completed any day
now. This update was originally planned
for February, but was delayed for a few weeks by plotting problems.
The first phase of the implementation of the ALMA Request Handler is
complete and was delivered to the ALMA Archive Group on March 18. This
first release of the Request Handler will provide functionality to retrieve
data via the Internet. After delivery, the archive group at ESO and in
Manchester will implement the ALMA specific code necessary to interface the
Request Handler to the existing archive infrastructure.
Dustin Jenkins and Adrian Damian have started the second phase of
development of the Request Handler. The second phase will add functionality
to process data before delivering it to users, and the ability to deliver
data on physical media.
The first ALMA Science Archive user test has been completed and the user
comments are available to the ALMA Archive group. There were some comments
regarding the form and content of the Request Handler web pages which can
be easily addressed in the release.
The fifth user test of the ALMA Pipeline was completed February
15. This was the first test to involve
automatic processing of the single dish data that is
expected from the 12 m antennas in the ACA. Chris Wilson is currently
working on the final report summarizing the responses of the three
testers, but overall the test went very well.
Chris Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org
Canadian ALMA Project Scientist
(with input from Lewis Knee, Severin Gaudet, and Jim Hesser,
as well as material from Al Wootten)
File translated from
On 21 Mar 2008, 16:17.