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The world’s most powerful radio telescope is now functioning!

The Alma telescope, based in the Atacama Desert, is now operational.

One of the best places to put a telescope is in the Atacama Desert, which is on the boarder of Chile and Peru – currently there are around 20 telescopes (both radio and optical) functioning in the area.

The Alma telescope

In the last few days, the world’s largest radio telescope, the Alma telescope, has began to function. Currently the telescope is made up of around 20 massive antenna dishes, which work in harmony to produce amazingly detailed pictures of outer space.

The project has input from all around the world, with Europe, North America, East Asia and the Republic of Chile forming a partnership, all doing their bit to add more antenna dishes and improve the telescope.

The ALMA Telescope
The antenna dishes that currently make up the telescope ALMA Telescope

When the project is completed, (hopefully within the next 20 years if all goes to plan) the telescope will have a whopping 66 dishes at its disposal, all of which it can use to gaze at the stars in fantastic detail!

Why the Atacama Desert?

You are probably wondering why the Atacama Desert is such a hotspot for telescope activity. Well there are a number of reasons, but the main ones are that it has clear skies almost all the time, in addition to very dry air – meaning that its hard for humans to breath there due to low oxygen levels, but for the telescopes, that means very little interference from anything in the space above.

Furthermore, the desert has many high flat areas, meaning that telescopes can be closer to the atmosphere, meaning even less interference. In addition to this, because the Atacama is a desert, it has virtually no light pollution. Basically it is an astronomer’s dream location!

Is it working?

The project has only been live for less than a week now, but already some stunning high detailed pictures of space area already beginning to emerge. Below is one of these great pictures:

ALMA Telescope deep space picture
A picture of deep space made possible by the ALMA Telescope

Because the light we can see here on earth is often millions, if not billions of years old, we are able to see into the past when looking up at the sky, using super powerful telescopes like the Alma one.

Scientists believe that we will be able to see events that happened just 400 million years after the big bang, due to the light delay, hence enabling us to understand better than ever before the formation of the early universe.

The Alma telescope is just one small cog in our planets fascinating scientific road of discovery, however one thing’s for sure: this ‘small cog’ should be able to help us understand a lot more about the universe than ever before!

0 replies on “The world’s most powerful radio telescope is now functioning!”

Telescope was my toy when I was 5. After grew up to be an adult, I cannot imagine the toy that I used to play is such a big deal. It is an interesting story up there. The name of the big thing is Alma telescope, nobody even bothers to name after Galileo Galilei.
:p

20 years is a long time yes, but it will hopefully be worth it!

“but we’ll be able to see everything from earth itself” – we will be able to see in much better detail, but sadly we won’t be able to see everything! It only covers one half of the sky anyway, and its reach will be limited.

I think they probably take a long time to operate and collect data, but I am sure it would be pretty cool to see!

“We can build many nice things, but they will only spoil the environment.” – Sometimes true, but this is in the middle of a desert…

I have read somwhere that the telescope can be used to establish contacts with other civilazations that we have in the universe! I doubt about it and I think we only have a chance to see the stars better.

“I have read somwhere that the telescope can be used to establish contacts with other civilazations that we have in the universe! “ – If you could post that source I would love to read it!

As far as civilizations are concerned, we aren’t even sure that their is life yet, let alone intelligent life which can form civilizations!

Dear Chris, Just found dish posting and believe you me there is intelligence and life beyond our planet. Humans are fine ally embracing the awesome potential of All and as small as we are, in the grand scheme of things, denial of this is going the way of the earth being flat! Looking forward to tomorrow 😉

That’s quite a statement! I, like you, am excited by the prospects of other life in the universe, but I think it is likely to be so far away that we are unlikely to find it – at least not in the near future. Maybe I’m a bit too pessimistic though!
FYI, it’s Christopher, not Chris!

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