National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Specialized Driver Training for ALMA Antenna Transporter


Specialized Driver Training for ALMA Antenna Transporter

This is a photo of the driver training for an ALMA antenna transporter, taking place at the ALMA Operations Support Facility located at an altitude of 2900 meters in Chile. ALMA has two dedicated vehicles driven by specialists to carry its 100 ton antennas. In order to become a full‐fledged driver, you must undergo driver training using a dummy antenna with a weight and center of gravity which are the same as the real antennas. The white box with legs shown in the photo is a dummy antenna. The driver, who is standing to the left of the box, is operating the huge antenna transporter with a remote controller.

Special Vehicle to Enable Zooming

By changing the arrangement of the antenna, ALMA can zoom like a camera zoom lens. When the antennas are located across an extended range, we can obtain high resolution. And when they are placed within a small range, we can observe wide extended objects. The ALMA antennas can be arrayed in several different arrangements ranging from approximately 150 meters to 16 kilometers. Since the optimal antenna arrangement depends on the research theme, we move the antennas frequently so that we can adapt to various observations. Also, the antennas installed at the Array Operations Site (located at an altitude of 5000 meters) are brought down to the Operations Support Facility for maintenance at regular intervals. The two antenna transporters are playing a very active role to rearrange antennas at the ALMA Array Operations Site and to transport them between the Array Operations Site and the Operations Support Facility.

Text by: Masaaki Hiramatsu (NAOJ Chile Observatory)
Translation by: Hiroko Tsuzuki and Ramsey Lundock (Public Relations Center, NAOJ)

Image Data

DateNovember 30, 2013
PhotographerMasaaki Hiramatsu
CreditNational Astronomical Observatory of Japan


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