Photo: World's Largest Radio Telescope Array Now Operational in Chile's Andes Mountains
The most ambitious (and expensive) ground-based telescope in operation was launched in Chile this week and scientists hope to use it to explore “the darkest corners of the universe—the parts where light does not reach.”
The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) is a set of radio telescopes built in the Atacama desert of northern Chile and costs roughly $1.4 billion. Located 16,400 feet above sea level, ALMA is the largest radio telescope on Earth and is said to be more powerful than all of the other radio telescopes in the world combined.
The array, which sits in the Andes Mountains, is made up of 66 radio dishes, each between 23 and 39 feet in diameter.
Dutch astronomy and professor of astrophysics, Ewine van Dischoek told the Miami Herald, ‘What we’re starting to do with ALMA is to identify those parts of the universe that contain the ingredients for life.
What ALMA can do is zoom into those areas where planets are being formed and see if those ingredients are present.’
ALMA was inaugurated on Wednesday though the last 12 dishes will not be ready until October.