ALMA: The View from a Different World

by Nancy Atkinson on March 15, 2013

A new film called The View From Mars takes a look ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array), the huge international telescope project that was inaugurated in Chile this week. It is located in the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth and an area that bears a striking resemblance to the Red Planet.

But the conditions there, with clear, dry skies, are perfect for astronomy. ALMA’s moveable group of 66 giant antennas do not detect visible light like conventional optical telescopes. Instead they work together to gather emissions from gas, dust and stars and make observations in millimeter wavelengths, using radio frequencies instead of visible light—with no need for darkness, so the stars can be studied around the clock. With these tools, astronomers will soon be able to look billions of years into the past, gazing at the formation of distant stars and galaxies.

“In doing so,” says filmmaker Jonathan de Villiers, “they’ll build a clearer picture of how our sun and our galaxy formed.”

Here is part one; you can see part 2 at this link.

The View From Mars: Part One on Nowness.com.

This image shows an aerial view of the Chajnantor Plateau, located at an altitude of 5000 meters in the Chilean Andes, where the array of ALMA antennas is located. Credit: Clem & Adri Bacri-Normier (wingsforscience.com)/ESO.

This image shows an aerial view of the Chajnantor Plateau, located at an altitude of 5000 meters in the Chilean Andes, where the array of ALMA antennas is located. Credit: Clem & Adri Bacri-Normier (wingsforscience.com)/ESO.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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