Washington: Scientists across the UK are proudly celebrating the monumental achievement of the completion of ALMA - the most complex ground-based telescope in existence.
The telescope was officially opened during an inauguration ceremony in Chile on 13 March 2013- the result of two decades of work from institutions all over the world, including in the UK.
ALMA is a high-frequency radio telescope made up of 66 individual antennas; these are combined to create a telescope with an effective diameter of up to 16 kilometres.
It will show us never-before seen details in the millimetre and sub-millimetre wavelengths it sees, about the birth of stars and planets, and of infant galaxies in the early Universe. It will also discover and measure the distribution of molecules-many essential for life-that form in the space between stars.
Hundreds of scientists, engineers and dignitaries from all over the world are gathering at the telescope`s remote location in the Chilean Andes to celebrate the completion of all major systems of the giant telescope and the formal transition from a construction project to a fully-fledged observatory.
During construction UK industry has won contracts to the tune of 44 million Euros.
"This inauguration marks an incredible achievement for UK scientists and engineers, who have been instrumental in making ALMA`s design and construction a success. Thanks to the UK`s investment in the project our world-class researchers will be part of a major international collaboration and remain at the very forefront of astronomy," said Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts.
ALMA has involved technical and scientific expertise from four continents. Individual components have been developed entirely separately in countries across the world including in the UK, and yet brought together and linked up seamlessly in a remote spot in the desert in Chile.