Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? These questions are as old as humankind. The search for answers impels many quests, for example, the painter Gauguin’s voyage to Tahiti … and astronomers to the remote Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes. That is the site of the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA), one of the most powerful telescopes on Earth.

The Array Operations Site (AOS) for ALMA is located at 16,500 feet (5,000 meters) of altitude. At that altitude, supplemental oxygen is required. Nearby in a more sheltered location – at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) – is the ALMA Operations Support Facility (OSF) in the Atacama Desert. OSF hosts the couple of hundred scientists, engineers, and staff needed to operate and maintain the telescope. The massive amount of data produced by ALMA requires reduction, archive, and distribution centers on four continents to deliver observational data to investigating scientists. Keep reading…

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