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Timeline

ALMA through the years

The birth of ALMA dates back to the end of the last century. Large millimeter/submillimeter array radio telescopes were studied by astronomers in Europe, North America and Japan and different possible observatories had been discussed. After thorough investigations, it became obvious that the ambitious projects of all of these studies could hardly be realized by a single community.

Consequently, a first memorandum was signed in 1999 by the North American community, represented through the NSF (National Science Foundation), and the European community, represented through ESO (European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere), followed in 2002 by an agreement to construct ALMA on a plateau in Chile.

Thereafter, Japan, through the NAOJ (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), worked with the other partners to define and formulate its participation in the ALMA project. An official, trilateral agreement between ESO, the NSF, and the National Institutes for Natural Sciences (NINS, Japan) concerning the construction of the enhanced Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array was signed in September 2004. This agreement was subsequently amended in July 2006.

NAOJ will provide four 12-meter diameter antennas and twelve 7-meter diameter antennas for a compact array (ACA), the ACA correlator and three receiver bands. With the inclusion of the Asian partners, ALMA has become a truly global astronomical facility, involving scientists from four different continents.

1995 Year NRAO/ESO/NAOJ joint site testing with Chile.
1999 June U.S. / European Memorandum of Understanding for Design & Development.
2001 April Resolution for ALMA between Europe, North America and Japan.
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2003 February North American / European ALMA Bilateral Agreement. This agreement was subsequently amended in February 2007.
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April Testing of first prototype antenna begins at the ALMA Test Facility (ATF) site in New Mexico.
November Groundbreaking ceremony at ALMA site.
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2004 September Agreement concerning the construction of the enhanced Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array, between ESO, NSF and NINS. This agreement was subsequently amended in July 2006.
2005 January Japanese contract for ACA production antennas.
July North American contract for up to 32 ALMA production antennas.
December European contract for up to 32 ALMA production antennas.
2007 March First fringes detected by two linked antennas at the ALMA Test Facility (ATF) site in New Mexico.
April Arrival of the first antenna in Chile.
2008 February Arrival of the two ALMA transporters in Chile.
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July First antenna movement with a transporter.
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October Installation of a Front End produced in North America in one of the Japanese antennas.
December Acceptance of the first ALMA antenna.
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2009 May First interferometry with two antennas at the Operations Support Facility (2,900 meters altitude).
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September First move of an ALMA antenna to Chajnantor (5,000 meters altitud).
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November Phase closure with three antennas at Chajnantor.
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2010 November ALMA Santiago Central Office handed over.
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November Release of first Science Verification data.
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2011 March ALMA Invites Proposals for Early Science Observations.
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July Almost 1000 proposals submitted for ALMA Early Science observations
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July Antenna number 16th has reached the heights of the Chajnantor plateau.
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August First 7-meter Antenna Arrives at Chajnantor.
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September Cryogenic Catering Truck Comes To The Alma Observatory.
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October ALMA Open its Eyes.
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December ALMA’s hotel residence contract signed.
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2012 May Halfway There: 33 ALMA Antennas on Chajnantor.
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May ALMA Invites Proposals for a New Cycle of Observations.
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May ALMA Turns its Eyes to Centaurus A.
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2013 March ALMA's inauguration.
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