A 100-ton antenna has arrived at a plateau in the Chilean Andes as the first piece of the world’s largest astronomical observatory. The ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is designed to observe light with millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves – and help astronomers see light from some of the coldest and most distant objects at the edge of the observable universe.
The antenna’s trek took place atop a Jawa-like crawler vehicle which navigated a winding road up to the 3-mile high plateau of Chajnantor. Two more antennas are slated to join the first ALMA antenna and link up by early 2010 to begin observations by 2011. But first they musts also make the journey through a bone-dry desert environment that suggests a scene on Tatooine.