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Proceedings Paper

66 antennas, up to 16km baselines, 5000m elevation, 28 km from support: the coming challenge of ALMA Observatory antenna group operations and maintenance
Author(s): Dean Chalmers; Felipe Daruich; Brian Hoff; Cristobal Jara
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Paper Abstract

The ALMA Observatory is under construction at 5000 m above sea level on the Chajnantor plateau located in the Atacama Desert, Chile. When complete it will be comprised of 66 parabolic reflector antennas that can be configured in various arrays using a subset of 192 different stations with baselines from 15 to 16,000 m. The Antenna Group in the ALMA Department of Engineering is responsible for maintenance of the antenna mechanical, control and structural systems, antenna relocations and mechanical aspects of astronomical instrumentation exchanges. The large number of antennas, expanse, elevation, weather conditions of the Array Operation Site (AOS) and its distance from the Operations Support Facility (OSF) will make operations and maintenance for the Antenna Group a challenge. Currently, approximately half of the antennas are in place at the AOS and the first period of Early Science is underway. Operational strategies and specialized equipment developed for preventive and corrective maintenance, array reconfiguration and weather event response are being put to the test and revised based on real experience. This paper explains the operational environment, the constraints it imposes, some of the strategies and specialized equipment being developed to reduce reaction time and resources needed to maintain the array and maximize availability for science operations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 September 2012
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 8448, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems IV, 844817 (13 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.927048
Show Author Affiliations
Dean Chalmers, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array Observatory (Chile)
Felipe Daruich, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array Observatory (Chile)
Brian Hoff, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array Observatory (Chile)
Cristobal Jara, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array Observatory (Chile)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8448:
Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems IV
Alison B. Peck; Robert L. Seaman; Fernando Comeron, Editor(s)

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