Working Issue - March, 2011

ALMA Development Workshop

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

Needs Band 6 B3 Pic

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.

Registration for the ALMA Development Workshop is now open. If needed, please make your hotel reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability.

NAASC News - Upcoming Events
DONE Community Day Events

Figure caption:

North American ALMA Community Days scheduled to prepare the community for the ALMA Early Science Call for Proposals. Registration and updated information can be found at .

Slide1.jpgThe North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) continues its collaboration with the North American community in hosting a slew of ALMA Community Days events across the United States and Canada - over twenty events are planned between now and the ALMA Early Science Cycle 0 proposal deadline on 30 June 2011.

The ALMA Community Day(s) events are one to two day events organized and led by astronomers in their community with a focus on the Early Science capabilities of ALMA, mm/submm interferometry observing techniques, and tools required to design ALMA observing programs and submit proposals.

The NAASC staff works closely with the organizers to plan the events to best serve the needs of the local community to prepare them for observations with ALMA. Two or more NAASC staff, including postdoctoral fellows, travel to these events where they participate in a number of different ways from describing the overall project, Early Science capabilities and community support programs. The NAASC staff also describe, demonstrate and often lead hands-on tutorials of the ALMA Early Science user tools, including the ALMA Observing Preparation Tool for proposal generation and simdata, a tool within CASA, for simulating observations.

The North American ALMA Science Center is pleased to announce the 2011 community events days listed below.

Some of these events will include a hands-on tutorial component for training on ALMA proposal tools.
Space for the hands-on workshops may be limited and local participants may be given a preference.

*Registration will close three weeks prior to the date of an event. Registration for these up-coming 2011 Community Events Days is now officially open and available here. More information about Tutorials in Canada can be found here *

March 15-16: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Contact: John Carpenter / Eric Murphy / Carrie Bridge

April 18: Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
Contact: Rachel Osten

April 18-19: University of Toronto, Dunlap Institute, Toronto, Canada
Contact: Gerald Schieven, National Research Council (NRC-CNRC)

April 20: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Boston, MA
Contact: Sean Andrews

April 26-27: NRAO, Charlottesville, VA
Contact: Kartik Sheth

May 2-3: University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Contact: Jonathan Tan

May 4-5: Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Victoria, BC
Contact: Gerald Schieven, National Research Council (NRC-CNRC)

May 8-10: University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Contact: Cornelia Lang / Daryl Haggard / Tony Wong

May 9-10: NRAO, Charlottesville, VA
Contact: Kartik Sheth

May 12-13: University of Calgary, Calgary, AB
Contact: Gerald Schieven, National Research Council (NRC-CNRC)

May 12-13: University of Arizona and NOAO, Tucson, AZ
Contact: Joan Najita / Xiaohui Fan

May 23-24: AAS meeting, Boston, MA
Contact: Kartik Sheth

May 27: Columbia University, NY
Contact: Andrew Baker

June 3: CASCA, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario
Contact: Gerald Schieven, National Research Council (NRC-CNRC)

NAASC Research Activities - Tony Remijan Science
DONE Is it possible to do chemistry 26,000 light years from the Earth? Is it possible to investigate the molecular origins of life in a region of space that is barely above absolute zero? How does organic chemistry happen in space with densities barely larger than 1 molecule per every cubic centimeter? These are the questions that Anthony Remijan and his research group, including Robin Pulliam a new NAASC postdoc from the University of Arizona, are investigating. Working in conjunction with laboratory groups at the University of Virginia, the Harvard Smithsonian CfA, The Ohio State University, NIST, and Emory University, Remijan and his colleagues are devising experiments in the laboratory and using the powerful tools of radio astronomy to test their theories. This collaboration comprises the current members of the Center for Chemistry of the Universe (CCU), an NSF funded Center for Chemical Innovation (CCI) that was formed to test the fundamental theories of chemistry in the extreme environments of interstellar space. The process of discovery starts with a fundamental mechanistic understanding of chemistry that leads to a prediction that can be tested under laboratory conditions. If the conditions in the lab are set up properly, they may in fact mimic a region of interstellar space. From both the theoretical prediction and the laboratory work, an experiment is devised that utilizes radio astronomical observations. These observations are done with either single dish telescopes like the GBT or with arrays like CARMA, eVLA and very soon, ALMA. One of the tools that Remijan and his colleagues uses are spectral line surveys of unique regions of the interstellar medium.

Molecular line surveys are studies of the spectra of astronomical sources over a wide, hopefully continuous, range of frequencies, in order to determine the chemical composition (ie. “molecular inventory“) , physical properties (temperature, density) and kinematics of such regions. Primarily the lower energy transitions of molecules of astrophysical interest are excited at the cold temperatures of molecular clouds, and these rotational transitions range from the radio to sub-millimeter wavelengths. Until recently radio receivers had instantaneous spectral bandwidths that covered only very small fractions of the wavelength regions of interest. Consequently, searches for and studies of interstellar molecules have traditionally been targeted towards the narrow regions around laboratory-measured transition frequencies of specific molecules. In contrast, spectral line surveys were very time-consuming and could only be carried out at those radio observatories that were willing to devote significant observing time to a survey project.

In 2007, the Prebiotic Molecule Survey (PRIMOS) was undertaken to provide complete spectral line data between 300 MHz and 50 GHz toward Sagittarius B2(N) using the NRAO 100 m Green Bank Telescope. Sgr B2(N) is the preeminent source for the study of large complex interstellar molecules and the source of numerous spectral line surveys ranging from the mm to submm. Of the ~170 astronomical molecules detected to date, more than half have been first discovered toward this region. The Sagittarius B2 complex also contains compact hot molecular cores, molecular maser emitting regions, and ultracompact sources of continuum radiation surrounded by larger-scale continuum features, as well as more extended molecular material. So far, PRIMOS data have led to the discovery of 3 new interstellar molecules; provided a database of Voigt recombination line profiles; uncovered a rich organic molecular inventory in the intervening spiral arms between our local environment and the Galactic center region; and provided the observational data necessary to test formation chemistry of large organic species. The data made available from PRIMOS through the Spectral Line Search Engine (SLiSE) also allows easy access to the data by the community. Therefore, not only will these data continue to enrich the astronomical community with spectral line data products but will also provide training to a new generation of scientists investigating the formation of molecular species in the extreme environments of space.

GBT Molecules.jpg
Figure 1. Representation of some of the molecular species that have been detected with the Green Bank Telescope. CREDIT: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

For more information about the PRIMOS survey, visit or email Anthony Remijan at For more information about the CCU including graduate student and postdoc opportunities, visit

DONE Robin bio

-- LyndeleVonSchill - 2011-02-22

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
GBT_Molecules.jpgjpg GBT_Molecules.jpg manage 56 K 2011-03-01 - 16:10 AnthonyRemijan  
Slide1.jpgjpg Slide1.jpg manage 137 K 2011-03-01 - 10:07 LyndeleVonSchill  
viewer.pngpng viewer.png manage 235 K 2011-02-22 - 13:57 LyndeleVonSchill  
Topic revision: r13 - 2011-03-07, LyndeleVonSchill
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