The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA; almaobservatory.org), a joint North American, East Asian, European and Chilean venture, started scientific observations in 2011 and is the largest, most powerful astronomical project in existence. Positioned at a staggering 5000m above sea level at a site east of San Pedro de Atacama called the Chajnantor plateau, this is the highest astronomical observatory of its kind on the planet. The ALMA uses state of the art technology, initially comprising 66 giant high-precision antennae working together at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths. These can be moved up to 16km across the desert, but act as a single giant telescope. ALMA’s slogan – “in search of our cosmic origins” – gives an exciting sense of what this project is really about.

For the first time in history, astrologers will be able to study new stars being born, watch planetary systems and galaxies with unprecedented clarity, and, with time, be able to answer big questions about the origins of life itself.

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Chile features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Why you should visit Chile in 2018

Why you should visit Chile in 2018

A slither of a country that somehow manages to encompass barren desert, knife-edge mountains and fertile river valleys, Chile has long attracted intrepid travel…

08 Jan 2018 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
Video: the 1 minute guide to Chile

Video: the 1 minute guide to Chile

Chile is an outdoor adventurer's paradise. From the parched peaks of the north's Atacama Desert to the storied wilderness of Patagonia in the south, the nature…

30 Nov 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
A postcard from San Pedro: finding life in one of the world's driest deserts

A postcard from San Pedro: finding life in one of the world's driest deserts

The unique landscape surrounding the Chilean town of San Pedro de Atacama is one of the world's top stargazing spots – but, in recent years, it's also attrac…

22 Nov 2017 • Sarah Reid insert_drive_file Article
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