ALMA Band 1 Receiver Manufacturing Readiness Review

The ALMA Band 1 receiver Manufacturing Readiness Review (MRR) was held on November 12-13, 2019. As part of the East-Asian ALMA Development program, the Band 1 receiver project is led by the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica (ASIAA) in Taiwan, in collaboration with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre in Canada, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the US, and the Departamento de Astronomía, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas Universidad de Chile (UCh). Since 2012, ASIAA has taken a leading role in the design and the development of the Band 1 receiver system. The Band 1 receiver Development marks a new milestone in technology development undertaken by East-Asian ALMA that opens up new opportunities and enhances the performance of ALMA.

ALMA Band 1 receiver cartridges assembled by ASIAA.

ALMA Band 1 receiver cartridges assembled by ASIAA.
Credit: ASIAA

The Band 1 receiver covers the frequency range between 35 and 50 GHz (6 to 8.5 mm in wavelength), which is the lowest frequency band of all ALMA observing bands. In the frequency range of Band 1, a broad variety of astronomical research themes can be explored, such as magnetic field measurements in star-forming regions, observations of dust evolution processes, and observations of carbon monoxide molecules contained in galaxies around 11 billion light years away. These proposed research themes will further expand the breadth of research with ALMA.

In the MRR, an international review panel checked and confirmed that Band 1 was ready to start the full manufacturing of 73 receivers (66 receivers are to be installed in the ALMA antennas in Chile, and 7 will be spare receivers) with all facilities operational, all procedures ready for the performance tests and assembly, as well as with a complete product assurance system in place. As a result of the review, the international review committee gave a green light to the start of the production. The installation of the first production Band 1 receivers in the antennas in Chile is scheduled for the first half of 2020, with a subsequent first light to occur soon afterwards. The production, delivery, installation, and integration of all receivers is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2022.

“Passing the MRR is a crucial milestone for the entire Band-1 team and our yearlong ASIAA-NAOJ collaboration. It marks the culminating effort of several years of work between ASIAA and NAOJ as this is the official approval from ALMA to go ahead with the full production for all receivers,” says Patrick Koch at ASIAA, the principal investigator of the Band-1 project.

“Unlike a single astronomy receiver development, producing 73 units of state-of-the-art receivers requires excellent quality control and dedicated evaluation of entire integrated receiver. With good teamwork within Taiwan leads the project reaching this major milestone. Furthermore, this achievement demonstrates another successful collaboration between ASIAA and NAOJ,” says Ted Huang at ASIAA, the Project Manager of the Band 1 project.