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Chile: Home of the world's largest telescope


Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA ( Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project are seen in the Chajnantor plateau, Atacama desert, some 1500 km north of Santiago, on March 12,2013. The ALMA, an international partnership project between Europe, North America and East Asia, with the cooperation of Chile, is presently the largest astronomical project in the world. On March 13, 66 high precision antennas will be opened, located at an altitude of 5000 meters above sea level in the extremely arid Atacama desert.


Martin Bernetti

The world's largest telescope — formally known as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA — officially opened for business Wednesday in Chile. 

The "telescope" is actually a grouping of 66 state-of-the-art radio telescopes in Chile's Atacama desert at 16,400 feet. They will be able to retrieve information about the very first stars created in our universe – around 12 billion years away, in time — shedding light on the history of the cosmos, according to the Science World Report

"What is so very special about this place is that, right here above our heads, there is virtually no water vapor. There is just so little that whatever light is emitted from a heavenly body, galaxy or star, it gets here with no interference," ALMA astronomer Gianni Marconi explained to Science World Report.

 The telescopes act like "a huge eye," receiving electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths in the submillimeter range, according to Science World. 

"This is similar to the move from the naked eye to the first telescope," Wolfgang Wild, project leader at ALMA's European project office, told the Business Recorder

“In fact, it’s more powerful than all of the other radio telescopes in the world put together,” Andreas Lundgren, a Swedish astronomer at the site, told reporters, according to FOX news

The collaboration between the United States, Canada, the European Union, Japan and Taiwan and Chile has been in the works since 2005, and cost $1.5 billion dollars, UPI reported

But hey, it's all worth it, right guys? 

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