Milestones

ALMA is an international project to construct and operate a large radio telescope in global partnership of East Asia, North America, and Member States of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Its roots can be traced back to the early 1980’s. At that time, Japan had completed the world’s most advanced Nobeyama 45-m radio telescope and started discussions aiming for a next-generation very large radio telescope. Meanwhile, researchers in North America were also moving forward a next-generation project. In the early 1990’s, European researchers started to work on the study of a very large radio telescope project independently. While working together on site survey of candidate sites and having discussions on astronomical themes to be achieved by a next-generation telescope and required technologies for its realization, researchers came up the idea of integrating three different project plans into one to realize an ultimate telescope with unprecedented performance. As a result of this, the ALMA Project was launched as a joint project of three regions.

The history of the ALMA Project over 30 years from 1983 to the present is briefly given below.

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East Asia North America Europe
1982 Nobeyama Radio Observatory established
1983 Large Millimeter Array (LMA) project plan Millimeter Array (MMA) project plan
1987 LMA developed into Large Millimeter and Submillimeter Array (LMSA) plan, aiming for full-fledged submillimeter observations
1991 Study for a large millimeter array started
1992 Site survey in Chile started
1994 Large Southern Array (LSA) project plan
1995 Site survey in Chile started
1997 LMSA-MMA collaboration proposed at the Japan-US
1997.03 Workshop “Millimeter and Submillimeter Astronomy at 10 Milli-Arcseconds Resolution”
1998.10 Research for the design and development of MMA started
1998.12 Resolution to form the European Consortium adopted
1999.06 Cooperation for the development of ALMA between North America and Europe started
1999.10 Resolution to form the ALMA Science Advisory Committee adopted
at the ALMA Science Symposium in Washington
2001.04 Trilateral Agreement for the joint construction of ALMA
2001.11 ALMA construction budget approved
2002.04 Budget for the ALMA prototype antenna approved
2002.07 ALMA construction budget approved
2003.02 Joint construction of the Bilateral ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) started
2003.11 Ground breaking ceremony for ALMA
2004.04 ALMA construction budget approved
2004.09 Joint construction of the Trilateral ALMA including Japan started
The project renamed “Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array”
2008.12 Japanese 12-m antenna accepted as the first ALMA antenna
2009.09 Japanese 12-m antenna installed as the first ALMA antenna at AOS at 5000 m
2010.01 Test observations started
2011.09 Early science observations with 16 antennas started
2013.03 ALMA Inauguration ceremony to start full-fledged operations
2015.12 Trilateral Agreement concerning Operations of ALMA signed
2016.11 Trilateral Management Agreement concerning Operations of ALMA signed

Milestones of ALMA Project in Japan and East Asia

In ALMA, East Asia (led by Japan) shares contributions of 25% of the entire Project. Along with European and North American partners, East Asia has implemented assigned tasks to develop subsystems of ALMA such as the antennas, receivers, and correlators. The milestones of ALMA Development Project in East Asia is given below.

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Management

Antenna development

Receiver development

Correlator development

1997.04

LMSA Project Office organized at NAOJ

2000.04

LMSA Project Office reorganized into Provisional ALMA-J Project Office

2002.04

Budget for the ALMA prototype antenna approved

2003

Evaluation tests of the prototype antenna conducted in New Mexico

2004.04

ALMA construction budget approved

Provisional ALMA-J Project Office reorganized into ALMA-J Project Office

2005.05

Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the ACA Correlator

2005.06

Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the Band 4/8 Receiver Cartridges

2005.09

Japan-Taiwan Agreement for Collaboration concerning ALMA signed. Taiwan officially joined in the ALMA Project as a partner organization of Japan.

2005.11

Preliminary Design Review of the ACA System

Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the ACA System

2006.01

Evaluation tests of the prototype antenna completed

2006.12

Critical Design Review (CDR) of the ACA Correlator

2008.02

Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the Band 10 Receiver Cartridge

2008.12

Japanese 12-m antenna accepted as the first ALMA antenna

2009.06

Critical Design Review (CDR) of the Band 4/8 Receiver Cartridges

2009.11

Japanese 12-m antenna installed as the first ALMA antenna at AOS at 5000 m

2010.03

Japanese antennas nicknamed ”IZAYOI”

2010.06

First spectrum received by Band 4/8

2010.11

Delivery tests of the ACA Correlator done

Test observations started

2011.05

First Japanese 7-m antenna handed over

2011.06

Manufacturing Readiness Review (MRR) of Band 8 receiver cartridge

2011.09

Critical Design Review (CDR) of the Band 10 receiver cartridge

2012.03

Japan-Korea Agreement for Collaboration concerning ALMA signed

2012.01

ALMA East Asia Front-End Integration Center (EA-FEIC) in Taiwan completed fabrication and evaluation of all the receiver systems for ACA

2012.04

NAOJ reorganized the ALMA-J Project Office into the NAOJ Chile Observatory

2012.06

Manufacturing Readiness Review (MRR) of Band 4/10 receiver cartridge

2012.11

First spectrum received by Band 10

2013.04

All of 16 Japanese antennas installed at AOS

2014.02

Shipment of all the Japanese receiver cartridges completed

2014.08

Japan-Korea Agreement concerning the Operations and Development of ALMA signed. Korea officially joined in the ALMA Project as a partner organization of Japan

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