Where is the ALMA site?
- Where is the ALMA site?
ALMA is constructed on a plateau at 5000-meter altitude in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, located in the Chilean Andes near the border with Bolivia and Argentina. The average annual rainfall of the region is below 100 mm, which is an ideal condition for observation. Although it takes one and a half day (including connection) to go to Chile from Japan (located on the other side of the world), the access to the site is relatively easy compared with other mountain regions such as the Himalayas. The Operations Support Facility (OSF) is located at 2900-m altitude, and the Array Operations Site (AOS) at 5000-m altitude (observation site) is about one-hour drive along the paved road from San Pedro de Atacama, a village closest to the ALMA site.
The ALMA site map
- Why is ALMA constructed in Chile, not in Hawaii?
Because it turned out the Chilean site has better conditions for millimeter/submillimeter observations than the candidate site in Hawaii as a result of our site survey. The Chilean site has a flat and wide land which is suitable for the construction of a large-scale array. Besides, the host country Chile so far provided their lands for many astronomical projects, and is willing to provide cooperation for the ALMA project too. Another reason why Chile was selected as the ALMA site is that it is located in the southern hemisphere where many important and unique astronomical objects can be observed, including the center of the galaxy and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.
- Isn't it hard to go to Chile for observation?
Observers do not have to travel to Chile, in principle. They send commands for the observation and analyze the data from ALMA Regional Centers (ARCs) around the world.
- Isn't there any safety problem in Chile?
Chile boasts a remarkably lower crime rate than other South American countries, and has high living and educational standards. Chileans are friendly and good people in general, and well aware of the importance of astronomy.