- Wind and snow are now an almost permanent part of the landscape at AOS; all of the ALMA antennas are now protected.:
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* ALMA remains in caretaker mode, with a small team in place during pandemic shutdowns. Reviews of the situation are scheduled regularly as some ALMA partners experience improvements locally. ALMA offices at NRAO are discussed elsewhere in this eNews; offices in Chile remain in Caretaker status. Even though ALMA is technically located in the Tropics, at its altitude winter temperatures rarely rise above freezing until Spring. Windblown snow can become ice, presenting a danger to mechanical components--particularly the ALMA antennas. All antennas have been sealed to prevent this from occurring.
- ALMA North American Development Studies Cycle 8 / FY2021
* Cycle 8 ALMA Development Studies are reviewed, nominated, and submitted for approval by NRAO and NSF. Four proposals were received in response to the North American ALMA Development Studies Call for Cycle 8 to begin in Fiscal Year 2021. These proposals were reviewed by a panel of 7 Study reviewers. The rankings of the proposals from the review suggested all proposals receive funding consideration. The proposals were well-received by reviewers, fit within the budget, and address the strategic goals of North American ALMA Development and the ALMA2030 goals very well. The four most highly ranked proposals involve ten investigators at four institutions. The set was comprised of two hardware studies and two software studies. Four studies are recommended for funding, requesting a cumulative total of $857,421. In-kind funding provided by the proposing parties provides an additional $913,485.
The programs recommended for funding in Cycle 8 are as follows:
- Band 6v2 Receiver Development This program is assocated with the preceding program. Together they will advance a wide range of scientific studies by significantly reducing the time required for projects from imaging protoplanetary wakes in disks to blind redshift surveys, spectral scans, and deep continuum surveys.
2. Extending IF Bandwidth of the Existing Band 6 SIS Mixers to 12 GHz and 16 GHz with Optimal Noise Performance: An Experimental Demonstration. This program is tightly connected and complementary to the preceding program and promises increasing the bandwidth of ALMA 1.3mm receivers from the current 5 GHz to 12GHz or 16GHz. This increase exceeds that called for by the ALMA Roadmap, which calls for broadening the receiver IF bandwidth by at least a factor two.
Technique-oriented Studies both propose to develop imaging techniques for more accurate image production from incompletely sampled Fourier plane data using regularized maximum likelihood (RLM) techniques. These methods have been demonstrated to achieve higher angular resolution of continuum and spectral line sources while achieving superior image fidelity to traditional `CLEAN-based techniques. In addition to benefitting ALMA imaging, these techniques may be expected to benefit JVLA, VLBA and eventually ngVLA imaging.
- Regularized Maximum Likelihood Techniques for ALMA Spectral Line Imaging. Developing and implementing methods for ALMA spectral line imaging, this Study focuses on achieving high image fidelity when utilizing multi-configuration spectral line and/or continuum aggregate datasets. As the ALMA archive continues to mature, techniques that can accurately image large and diverse quantities of data will drive science forward in key areas that require sensitivity and angular resolution, such as the kinematic detection of planets in protoplanetary disks and accurate astrochemical domain imaging in diverse sources.
- Beyond black hole images: extending new imaging techniques including RLM from EHT to ALMA. Larger bandwidths and better receiver sensitivity will enable gains in speed and image quality on much longer baselines, enabling qualitatively new science, as demonstrated by the recent continuum imaging of the M87 Event Horizon.