• Question: How long did it take you to build ALMA in Chile's atacama desert?

    Asked by 477terb57 to Catherine on 16 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Catherine Vlahakis

      Catherine Vlahakis answered on 16 Mar 2015:

      It took many years, decades even, from the initial concept of building ALMA to actually having it completed. That’s pretty normal for building telescopes. It takes a long time for the plans to evolve, to decide where to build it and what kind of telescope it should be, then money has to be found to build it and international agreements made. After all that happens, eventually all the different technical components build around the world arrive at the telescope site, and the telescope is gradually built. In the case of ALMA, I started working there when there were only a few of the total 66 telescopes. It took a couple of years for them all to arrive. As part of building ALMA we had to test the telescopes to make sure they worked properly, and I was one of the people doing that.