ALMA People

Who Operates ALMA?

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an international astronomy facility, a partnership of North America, Europe, and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. This globe-spanning alliance employs people from all over the world.

ALMA Board Meeting in the ALMA Headquarter in Santiago, Nov. 15, 2018.
Credit: Ralph Bennett - ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

ALMA is funded in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC), in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

ALMA construction and operations are led by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; by ESO on behalf of its Member States; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia.

During construction, ALMA employed over 800 people to design, build, repair, maintain, and run the facilities in Chile and in the partner organizations. Many of the construction staff were South American, and their experience with high-altitude industrial work was critical to the success of the observatory.

An International Partnership

At the NRAO, our engineers designed and built receiver cartridges as well as the tiny but sophisticated electronics that went inside them. Many of our scientists and engineers spent months living at the ALMA site in Chile to help the telescopes get tested and integrated into the array. A few of our astronomers relocated to Chile to take on leadership positions within ALMA during its construction.

Since its March 13, 2013 inauguration, ALMA maintains a few hundred engineers, astronomers, technicians, and administrators in Chile as staff of the JAO. The partner institutions have their own minimal staff in Chile, with more substantially staffed centers for data reduction and technology development in their own nations.

At the NRAO, the North American ALMA Science Center is the hub of software development and ALMA data handling for the North American partners. Our scientists not only use the telescope for astronomical observations, but they also support the success of other North American scientists who are granted time on ALMA by helping them get the most out of their data.

ALMA in the News