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Céline Acharian - 22/12/2011

Inria works on ALMA, the world’s largest radio telescope project

Artist's Concept of Completed ALMA © ALMA / ESO / NRAO / NAOJ

Inria and ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array), alongside the CNAM (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, the French National Academy for Arts and Crafts), are working together to design the man-machine interfaces that will control the revolutionary radio-telescope currently being built in the Atacama desert, to the north of Chile.

 Located on the table-top flat Chajnantor, at an altitude of 5,000 metres, the observatory will offer researchers and astronomers the chance to study various phenomena related to the creation of the universe. Once complete, ALMA will be the largest astronomical observatory in the world , with 66 high-precision antennas. This ambitious project is an international partnership of various European, North American and Asian countries, in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

Inria’s In Situ team and ALMA have been working side-by-side for the past 2 years on the design and development of the telescope’s control interfaces . Indeed, the sheer complexity of this telescope requires the use of advanced technologies in the interactive visualisation of datasets.

With excellent results in these first two years working together, Michel Cosnard, Inria CEO, and Thijs de Graauw, ALMA director, signed an agreement protocol on 30th November 2011, strengthening the bonds between the two institutions. This cooperation forms a part of the Communication and Information Research & Innovation Center (CIRIC) that Inria will open in Chile early 2012, alongside 9 universities in the country. 

Keywords: ALMA Telescope Man-Machine Interaction Chile CIRIC Radio-telescope