East of Easter Island – Building and commissioning the ALMA array

Hundreds of years ago, the inhabitants of Easter Island erected giant statues, their backs against a vast ocean.

Easter Island statues by Honey Hooper. via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.05 Generic license. Image is unmodified and no endorsement by the photographer is implied. Click image for details

Today, one can fly nine hours due east and see an equally impressive array of eyes and ears looking up at an ocean of stars – the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, ALMA. Both are on Chilean territory.

ALMA Array – Image courtesy National Radio Astronomy Observatory


The builders of the statues are lost to us. In the rush to admire the results from a great observatory, we easily lose sight of those who braved the paper-thin and bone-dry air at 17,000 feet to place these modern instruments. Brady Haran takes an important first step in that recognition.

ALMA – Deep Sky Videos

Watch this video on YouTube.

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