“Telescope for Human Race” Realized by Global Collaboration
A large-scale astronomical project like ALMA is not a project that can be developed or operated by one country. ALMA became possible by international collaboration among countries and regions that agreed to share human resources, technologies, and funds.
In general, academic research is a field of fierce international competition, but also a field of amicable international collaboration where researchers are commonly working together beyond national boundaries.
From the 1980’s through the 1990’s, researchers in Japan, Europe, and North America were respectively making plans for a large radio telescope. While sharing each other’s plans at international conferences, researches started to adopt advantageous schemes of the others for their own plans, which resulted in three region’s having very similar plans.
In this situation, they came up the idea of integrating three different project plans into one to realize an ultimate telescope that cannot be possible by one country or one region. Eventually, they all agreed to launch ALMA as a joint project.
Currently, ALMA is operated by East Asia including Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, North America including U.S. and Canada and 16 member states of the European Southern Observatory in cooperation of the Republic of Chile where the ALMA site is located.
A dozen of NAOJ staff members from Japan are stationed in Chile to work for operations of ALMA in cooperation with researchers, engineers, and administration staff who came from all over the world.
And, the ALMA Regional Support Centers (ASCs) have been established respectively in Japan, U.S. and Germany to provide support for astronomers who conduct research with ALMA in East Asia, North America, and Europe.