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Proceedings Paper

ALMA science operations
Author(s): Lars-Åke Nyman; Paola Andreani; John Hibbard; Sachiko K. Okumura
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Paper Abstract

The ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project is an international collaboration between Europe, East Asia and North America in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The ALMA Array Operations Site (AOS) is located at Chajnantor, a plateau at an altitude of 5000 m in the Atacama desert in Chile, and the ALMA Operations Support Facility (OSF) is located near the AOS at an altitude of 2900 m. ALMA will consist of an array of 66 antennas, with baselines up to 16 km and state-of-the-art receivers that cover all the atmospheric windows up to 1 THz. An important component of ALMA is the compact array of twelwe 7-m and four 12-m antennas (the Atacama Compact Array, ACA), which will greatly enhance ALMA's ability to image extended sources. Construction of ALMA started in 2003 and will be completed in 2013. Commissioning started in January 2010 and Early Science Operations is expected to start during the second half of 2011. ALMA science operations is provided by the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) in Chile, and the three ALMA Regional Centers (ARCs) located in each ALMA region - Europe, North America and East Asia. ALMA observations will take place 24h per day, interrupted by maintenance periods, and will be done in service observing mode with flexible (dynamic) scheduling. The observations are executed in the form of scheduling blocks (SBs), each of which contains all information necessary to schedule and execute the observations. The default output to the astronomer will be pipeline-reduced images calibrated according to the calibration plan. The JAO is responsible for the data product quality. All science and calibration raw data are captured and archived in the ALMA archive, a distributed system with nodes at the OSF, the Santiago central office and the ARCs. Observation preparation will follow a Phase 1/Phase 2 process. During Phase 1, observation proposals will be created using software tools provided by the JAO and submitted for scientific and technical review. Approved Phase 1 proposals will be admitted to Phase 2 where all observations will be specified as SBs using software tools provided by the JAO. User support will be done at the ARCs through a helpdesk system as well as face-to-face support.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 July 2010
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 7737, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems III, 77370G (29 July 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.858023
Show Author Affiliations
Lars-Åke Nyman, European Southern Observatory (Chile)
Paola Andreani, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
John Hibbard, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (United States)
Sachiko K. Okumura, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (Japan)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7737:
Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems III
David R. Silva; Alison B. Peck; B. Thomas Soifer, Editor(s)

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