National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Scientific Goals and Missions - ALMA Project


In order to study the formation of planetary systems and galaxies through observations of materials such as low-temperature gas and dust in those objects and to aim to detect emission from organic molecules and others, the ALMA Project, a joint international project among Japan, USA and Europe, constructed and has operated the Atacama Large Millimeter / sub-millimeter Array, which consists of high-accuracy fifty-four (54) or more 12-meter antennas and twelve (12) 7-meter antennas, located in the Atacama plateau of Northern Chile at an altitude of about 5000 meters.


The missions of this project are:

  1. to provide a stably operational telescope, maximize the availability of observing time, and make the operations user-friendly to facilitate science for broader communities;
  2. to collect and deliver high-quality data sets to the scientific community by operating, maintaining and further developing a state-of-the-art observatory; and
  3. to produce outcomes to meet the scientific requirements from broader fields of research and obtain fair evaluation from the scientific community.

Primary Scientific Goals

The primary scientific goals of this project are:

  1. to verify how planets form and evolve in planetary systems by observationally revealing the morphological diversity in protoplanetary disks;
  2. to explore the process and the first epochs of galaxy formation in the cosmic history and to unveil the nature of galaxies in the re-ionization era through observations of various galaxies, from the nearby to the distant universe; and
  3. to open up a new window in research leading to the discovery of biogenic molecules by surveying emission from various materials related to the origin of life.

Target Date

End of March 2023