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ALMA in the Coming Decade - A Development Workshop.

ALMA in the Coming Decade: A Development Workshop
March 21-22, 2011, NRAO, Charlottesville, Virginia

ALMA 9 Antenni

Image courtesy Tania Burchell (NRAO)

ALMA in the Coming Decade: A Development Workshop

ALMA will transform astronomy beginning with Early Science results later this year. It will reach full operation by 2013 and will eclipse any current millimeter or submillimeter array in sensitivity and resolution by nearly two orders of magnitude. ALMA will operate from 3mm to 0.3mm across a decade of nearly complete frequency access as enabled by its broad bandwidth receivers, powerful correlators and spectacular site. Having invested ~$1.3B to realize the biggest historical advance in ground-based astronomy, it is vital to maintain and expand its capabilities. Toward this end, the ALMA Operations Plan envisages an ongoing program of development and upgrades which may include hardware, software or data analysis tools. With a modest investment of less than 1% of capital cost per year (eventually about $13 million) divided among the three funding regions (North America, Europe, East Asia), ALMA will continue to lead astronomical research through the 2011-2020 decade and beyond.

In recent years, several programs which could spearhead a development plan have been identified by the scientific community. For example, ALMA's wavelength coverage could be extended to cover from 1 cm to 200 microns and thereby encompass additional unique spectral features and important scientific topics. To further explore such ideas, the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) will soon invite Proposals from North American entities for studies relevant to the crafting of an ALMA Development Plan. All interested parties located within the North American ALMA partnership are eligible to participate in these studies.

The primary aims of these studies are:

  • to give groups in North America the opportunity to propose ALMA upgrades that may later be implemented as part of the ALMA Development Plan;
  • to support the development of conceptual and detailed designs for ALMA upgrades; and
  • to encourage relevant long-term research and development in areas important for ALMA.

The completed studies will be used, together with similar studies from the other ALMA partners, to devise and implement the ALMA Development Plan. To help initiate this process, we invite you to attend an ALMA Development Workshop in Charlottesville on 21-22 March 2011. At the workshop we will present the scientific motivation for a suite of key science goals driving possible development projects in hopes of stimulating further discussion and thinking. The second part of the workshop will allow us to explore ideas for development projects in more detail and how these projects can be effectively managed. An agenda will be forthcoming. While we now plan no formal program for the second day, participants are invited to present their ideas for participation in ALMA/NA Development in a discussion session.